The Whitaker Family is rooted in the heart of Northwest Arkansas, and its legacy now extends through four generations of Whitaker family members. The pioneer of the family, C. Don Whitaker, was the manager of the first Walmart store, and one of the very first personnel hired by Sam Walton. In time, he became a true innovator on behalf of Walmart, and began opening stores all over the United States.
During his lifetime, C. Don Whitaker and his wife, Pauline Whitaker, made a point of giving to local charities that focused on children, and in particular to medical research, health care and education for adolescent children. In addition, they had a granddaughter who struggled with Tourette’s syndrome, so that became a personal catalyst for their philanthropic passion.
After Don passed away in 1981, Pauline began giving back even more to the community, making generous gifts to the University of Arkansas. In appreciation for that support, the U of A dedicated an entire Arena entrance to the family: the Whitaker Entrance at Bud Walton. More recently, the Whitaker Family made generous donations to support the men’s new basketball practice gym.
The Whitaker Family has been a lead donor for Arkansas Athletes Outreach (“AAO”), supporting both its Fayetteville and Rogers locations. In recognition of the support, AAO opened its new facility, the AAO P. Whitaker Sports Center, creating a facility for competitive youth sports and encouraging youth sports, leadership and character skills. The Family has donated to the Northwest Arkansas Community College, purchasing the equipment for their new computer room, which has now been named the C. Don Whitaker Computer Room, and they have been deeply involved in supporting The New School, an independent primary and middle school in Fayetteville, AR.
The Whitaker Family also supports The Miller McNeil Woodruff Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness and funding research for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers. The Family has collaborated with Circle of Life Hospice, and helped to develop and maintain a Circle of Life Room, created to provide therapy and support to children who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.
The Whitaker Family also has a deep love for horses, and because of their love and support, the University of Arkansas named its Animal Science Arena, which has a 25,000 sq. ft. arena, a 9,600 sq ft barn and a 2,400 sq ft reception area, after Pauline and the famiy. The family has also supported Equestrian Bridges, an Equine Recreational Therapy Center for children and adolescents.
The newly formed Whitaker Family Foundation is the logical extension of the Whitaker family’s ongoing support for their community, and continues to focus primarily on children’s healthcare and education.