David Koch Dead, Billionaire Conservative Passed Away At Age 79

David H. Koch attends the U.S. Olympic And Paralympic Foundation Event Hosted By Ellen and Daniel Crown in New York City.
Lars Niki / Getty Images

Billionaire David Koch has died at the age of 79, CBS News reports. According to a previous story by The Inquisitr, the conservative businessman stepped down from his position at Koch Industries last year due to struggles with his health.

In a statement made available via NBC News, David’s brother Charles confirmed his passing.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David. Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life.”

Born into an upper-middle-class Kansas family in 1940, David followed in the footsteps of his father, a chemical engineer, and got his start in chemical engineering. By 1970, he had joined the family business, Koch Industries.

For the past couple of decades, the brothers were known for their exorbitant wealth, their donations to humanitarian causes and their politics.

Wealth

At the time of his death, Koch was worth an estimated $50.5 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 11th-richest person in the world (NBC News claims he was worth $42.4 billion, which would knock him down on the list of the world’s richest). His family’s business, Koch Industries, derived its revenue from crude oil refining and fertilizer production, as well as manufacturing Dixie Cups and Quilted Northern toilet paper.

Philanthropy

David, like his brother, donated millions of dollars to various charitable causes. David specifically donated huge sums to medical research — a desire perhaps borne of his own battle with prostate cancer 27 years ago.

Forbes estimates that Koch gave away $1.3 billion of his personal fortune to charitable causes, including multi-million-dollar donations to New York’s Lincoln Center and Memorial-Sloan Kettering. He also donated $100 million to renovate the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, which was renamed for him in 2008.

Charles quoted economist Adam Smith in describing his brother’s generosity. “The significance of David’s generosity is best captured in the words of Adam Smith, who wrote, ‘to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature,'” he said.

Politics

The Koch Brothers were also a force in politics, largely working behind the scenes through donations.

The men were known primarily for supporting conservative and libertarian causes, such as free trade and lower taxes; although David was considerably less involved in politics than his brother, preferring instead to focus on humanitarian work and his involvement with the arts.

In the 2016 election, the brothers didn’t support either candidate (Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton).

David Koch is also survived by his wife, Julia, and three children.