H. Ross Perot Sr. has passed away after a five-month battle with leukemia, Dallas News reports. The self-made billionaire and philanthropist passed away at the age of 89.
The Texas businessman and philanthropist, who ran populist campaigns for president in 1992 and 1996, died Tuesday, per the obituary published in The Dallas Morning News.Perot had nearly died earlier this year of an infection related to the illness.
Born in Texas in 1930, Perot graduated from college and served in the Navy before going to work for IBM in the 1950s. In the early 1960s he founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS), his first major company, and a large number of government contracts led him to mass wealth. Perot sold a controlling interest in the company to General Motors for over $2 billion in 1984, making him a billionaire.
Later in his business career, Perot backed Steve Jobs, when he founded his post-Apple computer company, NeXT, in 1985. In 1988, Perot founded another company, Perot Systems Corp.
Perot, who had been involved in advocating for the rescue of POWs after the Vietnam War, ran for president in 1992 as an independent. The campaign, which Perot abandoned in July before re-launching in October, focused on providing an alternative to the establishments of the two major parties, as well as opposition to free trade agreements.
Perot, while he won no states and therefore no electoral votes, notched 18.9% of the popular vote, the most by a third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt 80 years before. Perot also prevented the winner of that election, Bill Clinton, from achieving a popular vote majority. Dana Carvey played Perot on Saturday Night Live, and at one time portrayed both Perot and George H.W. Bush in the same presidential debate sketch.
Breaking News: Ross Perot has died at 89. A wiry Texas gadfly who made billions in the computer business, he ran for president twice as a third-party populist. https://t.co/V7oxqf8ixu— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 9, 2019
After the 1992 election, Perot remained in the public eye as a leading opponent of the NAFTA free trade agreement, and famously debated then-Vice President Al Gore on CNN in 1933, per YouTube.
In 1995, Perot founded the Reform Party, and ran for president the next year under its banner. However, he earned fewer votes in that election than he had four years earlier, and unlike in 1992, he was left out of the general election presidential debates. Perot wouldn’t run again, and while Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota on the Reform Party ticket in 1998, the party soon imploded, after it nominated Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
Perot was a famous collector and hoarder, and once owned the only copy of the Magna Carta that had ever left Great Britain.