Volume 5  Issue # 14
Monday, March 24, 2003

The President's Post
    The Synod of the Sun, the regional governing body for the Presbyterian Church, recently honored Mrs. Helen Walton in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Shereé and I, along with President Emeritus Dr. Fritz Ehren and his wife Juanita, were invited to attend the celebration. The theme for the evening was, “Faithful Living, Faithful Giving: The Story of Helen Robson Walton,” and it truly was a memorable and moving occasion.
   I was asked last September to share some of my favorite memories about Mrs. Walton for the Tulsa event and for a book that is currently being written. I submitted three stories, and each one was included in the tribute. I thought that it would be appropriate to share one of those stories with all of you.
   During my first year at Ozarks, Shereé and I and Steve Edmisten, Vice President for Advancement, were invited to spend the night at Mrs. Walton’s home. After a delightful dinner and evening of conversation, we retired to bed around 10:00 p.m. As Mrs. Walton said good night, she told us to sleep in as late as we wanted. About 6:30 a.m. the next morning, I awoke to the sound of dishes, silverware, pots, and pans clamoring in the kitchen. I lay still for a couple of seconds and then realized breakfast was being prepared. I awoke Shereé and said, “We need to get up. I think Mrs. Walton is making breakfast for us!” I knocked on Steve’s bedroom door to waken him.
   Several minutes later, the three of us walked out to the kitchen and, sure enough, there was Mrs. Walton making our breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, and grits. And in that moment, I witnessed the true essence of Helen Walton: the wealthiest woman in the world happily making breakfast for her overnight guests. By the way, I have never had an entire cup of coffee in my life. I don’t like coffee. That morning I drank three cups.

   Mrs. Helen Walton is the epitome of class, grace, and humility. She has literally touched thousands of lives, and she is loved and respected by a multitude of people. All of us on this campus are honored to be so directly affected by her friendship and her generosity.

Dr. Rick Niece

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