Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot dies aged 89

Clay Curtis
July 10, 2019

One was for himself and the other for his son, H. Ross Perot Jr.

Born in Texarkana, Perot served in the U.S. Navy before becoming a salesman for IBM.

Perot graduated from the Naval Academy in 1953 and spent four years at sea.

H. Ross Perot, an honorary member of the Special Forces regiment, stands in front of a statue (not shown) he commissioned and donated to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., April 5, 2012.

Perot's was truly a grassroots campaign. He had big ideas and tried to pitch them to his bosses, who ignored him. Perot approached corporation after corporation, pitching his data processing services and was turned down 77 times before he signed his first client. States needed help in running the programs, and EDS won contracts - starting in Texas - to handle the millions of claims.

Described as idiosyncratic and feisty, he pioneered the computer data industry by founding his own company in 1962. He became a multi-millionaire.

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According to Forbes, Perot's efforts to rescue hostages in Iran was recounted in the 1984 book "On Wings of Eagles" by Ken Follett. In 1986, GM paid Perot $750 million for his remaining stock in EDS.

Several original Norman Rockwell paintings hung in the waiting area, and Perot once told a visiting reporter that he tried to live by Rockwell's ethics of hard, honest work and family.

Endorsing Republicans in every election since, bar 2016, Perot returned to the world of business, selling Perot Systems to Dell for $3.9 billion in 2009.

A quirky politician who was known for his straight-shooting style, Perot was a strong defender of Israel, calling the Jewish State a role model for democracy in one of his last public speeches on May 13, 1992. He ran as an Independent on a platform of balancing the federal budget and opposing gun control. Although Perot did not win a single Electoral College vote, he was the most successful third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. A nationwide Gallup poll in July 1992 found Perot to be the front-runner for president with 39 percent, Bush at 31 percent, and then-Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas at 25 percent.

Perot ran for president again in 1996, after forming the Reform Party. Perot had also come down with a nasty secondary infection that nearly killed him the following month.

The Perot family collectively owns almost $59 million worth of residential property in the Dallas area. He believed in Jobs' vision and didn't want to miss out on investing as he had with Bill Gates and Microsoft.

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