Billionaire, Presidential Hopeful Ross Perot Dies

From the WebMD Archives

July 9, 2019 -- Former U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot died Tuesday at age 89.

The Texas billionaire died at his home in Dallas, The New York Times reported. Family spokesman James Fuller said the cause was leukemia.

Perot made his fortune in the computer services industry and eventually ran for president in 1992 and 1996 with populist talk of restoring Norman Rockwell's America, according to the Times.

He was born in 1930 to a cotton broker father in Texarkana, excelling at everything he set his mind to -- from paper boy to the Boy Scouts to becoming class president at the U.S. Naval Academy.

After leaving the Navy in 1957, Perot joined I.B.M., where he quickly became a top salesman. He left I.B.M. in 1962 to form his own company, Electronic Data Systems, which by the mid-1960s was a booming business. He quickly became one of the country's richest men.

Daredevil exploits on behalf of U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam, as well as a commando raid to free two Americans held in an Iranian prison in 1979, helped cement Perot's reputation as a patriotic folk hero.

That, his rapid-fire and colorful language, and $65 million of his own money, helped propel Perot from unlikely fringe candidate in the 1992 Presidential election to winning 19% of the popular vote in a contest against incumbent George H.W. Bush and the winner, Bill Clinton.

Perot tried again in 1996 but this time fared poorly, running on the Reform Party ticket.

He was a noted philanthropist, giving millions to schools, hospitals and cultural organizations. He was also a prolific author of a number of books centered on patriotic and political themes.

Perot reveled in his individualism, the Times said, with a favorite axiom being, "Eagles don't flock, you have to find them one at a time."

Information on survivors was not immediately available.