David Koch, billionaire businessman and influential GOP donor, dies at age 79

Clay Curtis
August 23, 2019

David Koch, the industrialist and libertarian who used his fortune to transform American politics while also donating more than US$1 billion to philanthropic causes, has died.

Both David and Charles Koch - known colloquially as the Koch brothers - shared an entrepreneurial spirit, fostered by their father, after whom the company is named.

David was diagnosed with prostate cancer almost three decades ago and he retired from Koch Industries in June 2018, when his brother said David's health had "continued to deteriorate" since being hospitalized in the summer of 2016.

David guided the chemical equipment side of his company from his home in NY while Charles remained in Wichita.

It is now the second-largest privately held company in the U.S., with Charles saying it would go public "literally over my dead body", reported The Economist.

He and his older brother Charles, 83, have been among the biggest donors to the GOP since the 1980s.

Last year, David Koch stepped away from overseeing the Koch organization and other political networks due to deteriorating health.

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"While this is a very sad day for us all, I want you to know that David was proud of the extraordinary work you all have done to make Koch Industries the successful company that it is today".

He had been hospitalized in 2016, according to NPR, and his "health has continued to deteriorate", Charles wrote in a letter to Koch Industries employees a year ago, CNN reported.

The brothers founded the anti-tax, small government group Americans for Prosperity.

David Koch and his wife, Julia, have three children.

"While we mourn the loss of our hero, we remember his iconic laughter, insatiable curiosity, and gentle heart", the family said in a statement.

In 1980, David was the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate, but he and his running mate Ed Clark were defeated by Republican candidate Ronald Reagan.

While David was well-known as a political donor, he was also a long-time philanthropist. "His stories of childhood adventures enlivened our family dinners; his endless knowledge rendered him our 'walking Google.' His sensitive heart had him shed a tear at the beauty of his daughter's ballet, and beam with pride when his son beat him at chess". He believed he had a responsibility to a world that had given him so many opportunities to succeed.

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