Former Walmart Inc. executive William Robert "Bill" Fields, who was an early mentor to CEO Doug McMillon, died in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 16. He was 70.
Fields began his 25-year career at Walmart when he was named an assistant to founder Sam Walton; he later held positions ranging from executive vice president and senior vice president of distribution and transportation. He was CEO of the company's Stores Division when he left to become Chairman and CEO of Blockbuster in 1996.
He later served as president and CEO of Hudson's Bay Co. and was chairman of the investment firm Fields Texas Ltd. at the time of his death.
"Our Walmart family is deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Fields," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an emailed statement to Arkansas Business. "Bill had a long and successful career at Walmart — rising from assistant manager to President & CEO of the Wal-Mart Stores division. He helped shape the company's merchandising formula and use of technology. He was a visionary merchant who learned from Sam Walton and passed that knowledge on to many. He will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with his wife and family at this difficult time."
Fields was born in Fort Worth but moved with his mother and siblings to Missouri and later Bentonville. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and then served in the U.S. Army before being recruited to Walmart by Walton.
Fields is survived by his wife, Lucia, and their two children; his son, Justin, and his wife, Megan; his sister, Sarah Redfield, and nephews, Charles and David Redfield, and niece, Charlotte Fields. Charles Redfield is an executive with Walmart.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Weed-Corley-Fish Lake Travis Chapel in Lakeway, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for contributions to the Bill Fields Memorial Funds, which will benefit Fields' three favorite charities: Arkansas Children's Hospital Northwest; Austin Pets Alive; and Shanghai Sunflower Foundation.