On a Simple Man

Simplicity has different meanings. One could be called “simple” to mean “uncomplicated” or, if you wished to be more polite, “simple” could imply “stupid.” In our case, simple used here means plain, basic, and free from pomp.

Moore was the latter type of a simple man. He and his family attended the First Presbyterian Church in town, and he taught the teen-aged Sunday school class every week. His lessons usually emphasized thrift and productivity and the Social Gospel. The family–his wife and their four kids–lived in a modest home with a couple of lazy hunting dogs decorating (and fertilzing) the front yard. On weekdays, he drove his old truck (a truck, by the way, that was always missing a couple of hubcaps for some reason) down to the local Day’s Inn to eat the same breakfast every day at the diner they had there. He called the waitresses by name and they did the same to him. He was one of those customers the girls at the diner would simply greet him and say, “the usual?” when he would enter, and he would smile and nod and usually sit in the same booth time after time.

At his office–and 8′ by 12′ room not far from his business–Moore had furniture that one person described as being from a Holiday Inn in the 1950s. To say that he was frugal would be an understatement. The visitor to his office who wished a cup of coffee would be pointed to a vending machine in the hallway. Lunch for Moore usually meant a sandwich, a bag of chips, and one of those vending machine coffees.

Plain. Basic. Free from pomp.

You might say less was Moore, in fact.

And that made sense, given his background. Raised during the Great Depression, he worked on his family’s farms, first in Oklahoma and then in Missouri. He was an Eagle Scout (some say he was the youngest such in state history). He collected farmers excess milk after school, bottled it, and sold it to help his family make ends meet. He had a paper route as well. He later said that the economic hard times of the 1930s taught him that you never spent money you didn’t have to spend. So, you see, this is a man who worked hard his whole life, spent a little, and saved a lot. As an adult, when he would be somewhat extravagant and spend money, it usually went to the church. He always said it was better to be giver than a taker. A simple man with a simple philosophy.

Would you be surprised if I told you that, when he passed away in 1992, Moore was the wealthiest man in America? Would it help you if I told you that Moore was his middle name, and that Samuel was his first name?

His friends and family called him, simply, Sam.

Sam Walton.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s