How Sam Walton Changed Donna’s Life


Donna Baker’s decades-long career began with a chance encounter with a helpful “stranger.”

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In 1988, Donna Baker was a single mom raising three kids in Plainview, Texas. She was working two jobs to make ends meet. She knew that if she could get hired at the new Walmart Distribution Center 6012 — where the hourly pay was more — she would only need one job.  

So she applied — more than once. “Back then, you had to fill out a paper job application each time,” she explains. She was determined! 

On a Monday in early August, 23-year-old Donna was heading to the DC to apply again. This time, something happened.  

A chance encounter

“August 8, 1988, was the day that changed my whole life,” Donna explains. 


When she arrived at the DC, it was during shift change, so she sat outside until things settled down. A tall man came over and asked how she was doing. 

“I told him I’d be doing a lot better if I could just get a job with Walmart!” she recalls. He looked at her application. “Let me see what I can do,” he said before walking inside the building.  

When he came out a few moments later, he explained that the only job available didn’t match her previous work experience. He continued, “If you let us hire you in that position, I promise you that I'll have you out of it in a month.”  

Donna was thrilled to accept the job, and eagerly thanked the man. 

The stranger replied, “By the way, I'm Sam Walton.” 

That’s right, the helpful “stranger” Donna met was none other than Mr. Sam Walton, Walmart’s founder.

True to his word, Donna received a different role within three days.

Moving forward and looking back

After working in Walmart DCs for 23 years, where she dispatched about 350 drivers, Donna decided to try something new in her career with Walmart.  

“I loved dispatching. It kept my mind sharp because your math skills had to be excellent,” she says. “But on the store side, it’s all about people skills. It opened a whole new life for me.” 

To this day, Donna can’t say enough good things about Walmart’s founder. “Mr. Sam was an absolutely wonderful man. He would try and come to our DC every month. We would crowd around him, asking questions.” 

Donna also remembers how Mr. Sam dressed as Santa Claus during the holidays and handed out bonus checks.  

Honoring Mr. Sam’s memory

Today, the team lead for Home at Walmart Supercenter 3055 in Catoosa, Oklahoma, says she honors Mr. Sam’s memory by sharing facts about the company’s history. “I quiz younger associates about Walmart trivia, like what year the first Walmart opened.”  

Donna also trains associates with a strong work ethic that she believes would make Mr. Sam proud. She puts 110% effort into her job. At the end of each day, she leaves knowing she did everything she possibly could do. 

As Donna celebrates 35 years with Walmart, she remains grateful that Mr. Sam saw her potential all those years ago. 

“I take great pride in working at Walmart,” she says. “Walmart has been wonderful to me. I’ve raised three very successful kids. And it all stems back to Sam Walton giving me the opportunity to make my life better.”