Billionaire Ross Perot, who ran for president twice, is dead at age 89

Ross Perot, the self-made billionaire who ran for president twice, died early Tuesday — just days after celebrating his 89th birthday, a family spokesman confirmed.

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The Texas billionaire was diagnosed with leukemia in February, the Dallas Morning News reported. He nearly died of a secondary infection a month after his diagnosis, his family said. He recently celebrated his 89th birthday in June.

“Ross Perot, the ground-breaking businessman and loving husband, brother, father and grandfather, passed away early Tuesday at his home in Dallas, surrounded by his devoted family,” Perot’s family said in a statement, which was released by their media representative, James Fuller.

“In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action. A true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of the military and veterans and through his charitable endeavors,” the statement continued. “Ross Perot will be deeply missed by all who loved him. He lived a long and honorable life.”

H. Ross Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996. (AP)

The date and time for Perot's memorial service will be announced on his personal website.

Perot was born in Texarkana, Texas, on June 27, 1930. He began his business career by delivering newspapers from the back of a pony. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949 before joining International Business Machines (IBM) in 1957 and quickly rose to the top of the ranks as a businessman.

The Texan rose from Depression-era poverty to become one of the nation’s richest men as the founder of computer services giant Electronic Data Systems Corp (EDS). He founded EDS in 1992 and sold control of it to General Motors for $2.5 billion in 1984. He later founded another company, Perot Systems, an information technology services company, which grew to more than 23,000 employees. He retired as CEO in 2000. His son, Ross Perot Jr., succeeded him as CEO. Dell Inc. acquired Perot Systems in 2009 for $3.9 billion.

H. Ross Perot founded the computer services giant Electronic Data Systems Corp.  (AP)

Despite being a successful businessman, Perot also made some business mistakes. His largest may have been a 1971 investment in DuPont Glore Forgan, then one of the biggest brokerage houses on Wall Street. The administration of President Richard Nixon asked Perot to save the company to head off an investor panic, and he also poured money into another troubled brokerage, Walston & Co., but wound up losing much of his $100 million investment.

Aside from his business practices, Perot also dabbled in politics.

In 1992, he ran as an independent candidate in the presidential election, challenging President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton. He drew nearly 19 percent of the popular vote, the biggest percentage for a third-party hopeful in 80 years — since former President Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 bid.

During his campaign, he spent $63.5 million of his own money and bought up 30-minute television spots.

In 1996, Perot again ran for president again but didn’t receive the same support and numbers of votes versus his previous bid. He was shut out of presidential debates after organizers said he lacked sufficient support. He won just 8 percent of the vote and the Reform Party that he founded eventually began to fall apart.


Perot was also known for his philanthropic efforts. The billionaire, his family and the Perot Foundation donated $90 million in “direct philanthropic commitments” to the University of Texas Southwestern, the Dallas Morning News reported. He spent much of his later years focusing on American troops and their medical care. Perot received a special award from the VA for his support of veterans and the military in 2009.

Former President George W. Bush released a statement regarding Perot’s death.

“Texas and America have lost a strong patriot,” the statement read. “Ross Perot epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed. He gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country and around the world.”

At the time of his death, Perot was worth an estimated $4.1 billion, according to Forbes. He is survived by his wife, Margot; their five children; 16 grandchildren; and his sister Bette Perot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.