BENTONVILLE, Ark. — John Walton, the billionaire son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a member of the company’s board, died Monday in a plane crash in Wyoming.
Walton, 58, of Jackson, Wyo., was piloting an ultralight that crashed shortly after takeoff from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park, the company said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the cause of the afternoon crash was not known, officials said.
The plane was an experimental ultralight aircraft with a small, gasoline-powered engine and wings wrapped in fabric similar to heavy-duty sail cloth, officials said.
Walton was one of Sam Walton’s four children and a cousin of Ann Kroenke and Nancy Laurie of Columbia. He was known for his contributions to K-12 education and in 2004 gave $75,000 to the Missouri branch of All Children Matter, which backs politicians who support charter schools and school vouchers.
In March, Forbes Magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on its list of the world’s richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his brother Jim, one spot behind his brother Rob, and just ahead of his sister Alice and his mother Helen.
Walton joined the board of Wal-Mart Stores in 1992, but did not work for the company.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said the company notified its employees worldwide of Walton’s death.
Walton is survived by his wife, Christy, and son, Luke; his mother, Helen; two brothers, Rob and Jim; and a sister, Alice.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.
Missourian reporter Samantha Marcus contributed to this report.