CLAREMORE, OKLA. — A capacity crowd honored Claremore native Helen Robson Walton last night as The Claremore Museum of History handed out their first-ever History Maker Award. The event, held at the Claremore Conference Center, honored the late wife of Walmart founder Sam Walton for her extraordinary life and contributions to the world.
Dr. Bob Blackburn served as master of ceremonies and the event featured a banquet, a tribute video showcasing Mrs. Walton’s life, and a live and silent auction. State and local elected officials joined community leaders and volunteers to celebrate the occasion.
Members of the Walton and Robson families were on hand to accept the award on Mrs. Walton’s behalf.
“It’s very fitting that Helen is the first recipient of this award. Her roots in Claremore instilled values that she carried with her during her entire life,” said Hays Gilstrap, chairman of the board of directors for the Claremore Museum of History.
She was valedictorian of her class at Claremore High School and completed her education at the University of Oklahoma. On Valentine’s Day 1943, she married Sam Walton at Claremore’s First Presbyterian Church. She went on to help her husband create one of the greatest American business success stories.She was widely known for her vast philanthropy, focusing on education, the arts, families and children. She also was a leader in the Presbyterian Church both locally and nationally.
Frank Robson, the younger brother of Helen Robson Walton, spoke at the event about his sister’s passion for education. “She knew how important access to a quality education is to a person’s life. That’s why she provided so many scholarships, took a leadership role at the University of the Ozarks and other schools, and shaped her family’s philosophy on giving back to the community,” he said.
Those in attendance were reminded that being from a small town is not a deterrent to success. “There we were, just kids from Claremore; and look at the impact she had on the world,” Robson said.
The event raised more than $130,000 for the Claremore Museum of History, to go toward the creation of a Claremore Public Schools and Education exhibit and to create an endowment for the museum.
The History Maker Award will be given occasionally by the Claremore Museum of History to individuals born and raised in Claremore who went on to make a significant impact far beyond the boundaries of Rogers County.
The Claremore Museum of History is open every Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4th and Weenohah Ave. Call 918-341-5630 or 918-342-9600 for information.