"If Mr. Walton was out on a trip, his idea of making a tennis date would be to radio our aviationdepartment when he was a few minutes out from landing and have them phone me with a time. I wouldget the call at eleven, find him a partner, and he would be playing by noon."So tennis became my outlet for organized competitive sport and exercise. But my real passion outsideWal-Mart has always been my bird hunting. I have to say it's probably my one self-indulgent activity. Iloved it so much that I just made it part of my way of doing business from early on.
Afew days later, Dad entered the University of Arkansas hospital in Little Rock. Even in the final weeksof his life, he took great pleasure in doing what he had always done. One of the last people he spoke withoutside the family was a local Wal-Mart manager who, at our request, dropped by to chat with Dadabout his store's sales figures for the week. Then, less than three weeks after receiving the Medal ofFreedom, and just days after his seventy-fourth birthday, Dad's struggle with cancer finally ended. OnSunday morning, April 5, he died peacefullyas inspirational in facing death as he had been in facing life.
After the meeting, Helen and I invite all the associates who attendabout 2,500 of themover to ourhouse for a big picnic lunch catered by our own Wal-Mart cafeteria. It's a lot of pressure on Helen; notmany wives would put up with that kind of crowd streaming through the yard and the house, but I thinkit's one of the best things we do, and in the end both Helen and I really enjoy it a lot. It gives us a chanceto visit with many of our associates who we would otherwise never get to see in a social setting like that.