Computer services pioneer, Navy veteran, two-time presidential candidate and philanthropist Ross Perot has died after a five-month battle with leukemia.
He was 89 years old.
“We have lost a true Dallas Icon,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson tweeted. “Ross Perot was a veteran, successful businessman, and philanthropist who spent his life working hard to make our city, state and country better. My thoughts and prayers are with the Perot family during this difficult time.”
A legendary business career began in Dallas in 1957 when Perot joined IBM as a computer salesman. Between exceeding expectations and having larger ambitions, he left the company in 1962 to venture out on his own.
Perot became a multimillionaire after taking his company, Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), public in 1968 just six years after its founding. He later became a billionaire when the company was acquired by General Motors Corp. (GM) for $2.5 billion in 1984.
The partnership was short-lived, however. After just two years, GM purchased Perot’s shares back for $700 million, according to the New York Times, and he cut ties with the automaker.
Perot soon after went on to found Perot Systems Corp. in 1988, which also went on to become a billion-dollar enterprise. It was acquired by fellow Texas-based company Dell Inc. in 2009 for $3.9 billion.
More than the money he brought in during his career, Perot may be better known for the amount he gave back.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Perot Foundation was responsible for approximately $90 million in donations to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His family also donated another $50 million to fund the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Dallas, which opened in 2012.
Perot also spent much of his later years ensuring that American military veterans received proper healthcare. He himself served in the armed services after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1953.
His service to the United States was far from over upon his retirement from the Navy. Perot left a major impact on American politics as a third-party candidate in 1992 and again in 1996. He received close to 20 percent of the popular vote in his first run, easily the most by a third-party ticket since Theodore Roosevelt ran as a member of the Bull Moose party in 1912.
Perot is survived by his wife Margot; his sister Bette; his son and four daughters and their spouses; 16 grandchildren and three step grandchildren.
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