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Walton, Sam (Samuel Moore Walton), 1918-92, American retailing executive, b. Kingfisher, Okla. After 17 years of operating franchise retail stores, he opened the first Wal-Mart Discount City in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. Walton developed Wal-Mart into a chain of massive, centrally controlled stores that were typically sited in small towns and rural areas. The stores featured heavy discounting, smaller profit margins than usual coupled with higher-volume sales, and a customer-oriented staff. Wal-Mart flourished, went public in 1970, and by 1991 had become a multibillion-dollar business and America's largest retailer. Walton, who stepped aside as chief executive of the company in 1988 but remained active in its management, was by 1985 the wealthiest person in the United States.

See his autobiography (1992); biography by B. Ortega (1998).

Rayburn, Sam (Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn), 1882-1961, U.S. legislator, b. Roane co., Tenn. After his family moved (1887) to Fannin co., Tex., he worked at cotton picking. He worked his way through school, studied law at the Univ. of Texas, and practiced in Bonham, Tex. He was (1907-12) a member of the Texas legislature and in 1913 entered the U.S. Congress. A middle-of-the-road Democrat, Rayburn soon became prominent in national politics. In the 1930s he was the man most directly responsible for the passage of New Deal legislation in the House. Rayburn held the office of speaker (1940-47; 1949-53; 1955-61) more than twice as long as any of his predecessors; his great political skill and his intimate knowledge of the House rules contributed to his unique prestige as a parliamentary leader.

See biographies by A. Champagne (1984), D. B. Hardemane and D. C. Bacon (1987); study by B. Mooney (1971).

Francis, Sam, 1923-94, American painter, b. San Mateo, Calif. Educated in medicine, Francis began painting while recovering from an injury received in World War II. His mural-sized paintings are stained with brilliant, transparent oil color. Small areas of color are concentrated irregularly over a canvas that is largely white. In his later works the use of color is confined to the sides of the canvas.
Nujoma, Sam (Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma), 1929-, Namibian political leader. A railway worker in what was then the South African mandate of South West Africa, Nujoma became the head of the Owambo People's Organization in 1959, which opposed South African rule and its extension of apartheid to the territory. The following year the organization was renamed the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), and Nujoma went into exile. He led SWAPO forces from exile, securing international recognition and ultimately South West Africa's independence. He returned in 1989 and became Namibia's first president (1990). Generally a moderate leader who has emphasized economic development, he was reelected in 1994 but was criticized for having the constitution changed so that he could be elected to a third term in 1999. He also has been accused by some former compatriots of being intolerant of dissent within SWAPO. After he stepped down as president in 2005 Nujoma continued as party leader until 2007.
Nunn, Sam (Samuel Augustus Nunn, Jr.), 1938-, U.S. Senator from Georgia (1973-97), b. Perry, Ga. A lawyer, he was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives (1968-72) and won election as a U.S. Senator in 1972. A conservative Democrat, he has been one of the Senate's more influential leaders, particularly during his term as chairman (1987-95) of the Armed Services Committee. In private law practice after retiring from the Senate, Nunn joined with Ted Turner to establish (2001) the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an organization devoted to controlling the proliferation of nuclear arms; Nunn is its co-chairman and chief executive officer.
Shepard, Sam, 1943-, American playwright and actor, b. Fort Sheridan, Ill., as Samuel Shepard Rogers 7th. A product of the 1960s counterculture, Shepard combines wild humor, grotesque satire, myth, and a sparse, haunting language evocative of Western movies to create a subversive pop art vision of America. His settings are often a kind of nowhere land on the American Plains, his characters are typically loners and drifters caught between a mythical past and the mechanized present, and his works often concern deeply troubled families. His many plays include Curse of the Starving Class (1977), Buried Child (1978; Pulitzer Prize), True West (1980), A Lie of the Mind (1985), States of Shock (1991), Simpatico (1994), The Late Henry Moss (2000), and The God of Hell (2004). Also involved in motion pictures, Shepard wrote the screenplays for The Right Stuff (1983), in which he played the part of Chuck Yeager, and Paris, Texas (1984); wrote and directed Far North (1989) and Silent Tongue (1994); and has acted in a number of other films. His other work includes the stories, meditations, and reminiscences collected in Motel Chronicles (1982), Cruising Paradise (1996), and Great Dream of Heaven (2002).
Slick, Sam: see Haliburton, Thomas Chandler.
Snead, Sam (Samuel Jackson Snead), 1912-2002, American golfer, b. Ashwood, Va. An outstanding high school athlete, he turned to golf after injuring a hand as a football player. He attracted attention with several professional victories in 1937 and won his first major title, the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) championship, in 1942. After serving in World War II, he returned to the game and won (1946) the British Open title. In 1949, Snead won the PGA and the Masters. He gained his third PGA in 1951 and additional Masters titles in 1952 and 1954. Snead (teamed with Arnold Palmer in 1960 and with Jimmy Demaret in 1961) figured in two Canada Cup victories for the United States. Nicknamed "Slamming Sammy" because of his graceful but powerful tee shots, he was a leading PGA money winner and won 81 PGA tournaments, more than any other golfer in history.
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