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Thread: Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, patriot and philanthropist, dies at 89

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    Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, patriot and philanthropist, dies at 89

    Ross Perot, self-made billionaire, renowned patriot and two-time independent candidate for U.S. president, has died after a five-month battle with leukemia.

    He was 89.
    The pioneer of the computer services industry, who founded Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and Perot Systems Corp. 26 years later, was just 5-foot-6, but his presence filled a room.


    "Describe my father?" Ross Perot Jr., his only son and CEO of the Perot Group, asked rhetorically in an interview. "Obviously a great family man, wonderful father. But at the end of the day, he was a wonderful humanitarian.

    "Every day he came to work trying to figure out how he could help somebody."
    Perot was diagnosed with leukemia in February. A massive secondary infection the next month nearly killed him, according to the family.
    In true Perot fashion, he fought back, showing up at the office most days in his dark suit with the omnipresent American flag on his lapel.
    Perot entertained a steady stream of well-wishers at Perot headquarters on Turtle Creek Boulevard and spent Easter with his family at their compound in Bermuda.
    He celebrated his 89th birthday in June with a family lunch at his office and a dinner at the home of his daughter, Carolyn Perot Rathjen.





    )"> Ross Perot at the Dell headquarters in Plano in October 2016.
    (Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News

    )
    One of his recent visitors was Morton H. Meyerson, the former EDS and Perot Systems president and CEO. Perot named Dallas' symphony hall after Meyerson when Perot donated $10 million toward its construction in 1984.

    "Ross was the unusual combination of his father, who was a powerful, big, burly cotton trader ó a hard-ass, practical, cut-deals person ó and a mother who was a little-bitty woman who was sweet, warm, wonderful," Meyerson said. "Ross was tough, smart, practical, loved to negotiate. But he had a warm and kind heart, too."

    In recent years, Perot Sr.'s memory was dimming, but he and Margot, his wife of more than 60 years, maintained a steady social calendar.
    Nancy Perot said there was a private, tender side to her father that was often eclipsed by his bolder-than-life public persona.
    No matter how busy Perot was, family dinners were sacrosanct when the children were growing up. The only time he wasn't at the head of the table to say grace was when he was out of town.
    "I want people to know about Dad's twinkle in his eyes," she said. "He always gave us the biggest hugs. We never doubted that we were the most important things in his life."
    Strong roots

    Family influence and an East Texas upbringing molded Perot.
    The third child of Lulu May Ray and Gabriel Ross Perot was born in Texarkana in 1930.
    He was named Henry Ray, after his maternal grandfather. But Perot changed his middle name in his early teens to honor his beloved father. His older brother, Gabriel Ross Jr., died as a toddler.
    When Perot was 25, he dug his father's grave with a shovel and filled it as a final tribute to him.



    Courtesy of Ross Perot)"> A young Ross Perot in his U.S. Naval Academy uniform.
    (Courtesy of Ross Perot
    )


    Perot started throwing the Texarkana Gazette as an 8-year-old. He later credited his newspaper experience with shaping his entrepreneurial ways.



    Perot attended Texarkana College before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949.

    He met Margot on a blind date when he was a midshipman and she was at Goucher College in Baltimore.
    In his autobiography, Ross Perot: My Life & the Principles for Success, Perot reflected on getting several pairs of shoes and a dozen sets of underwear after being sworn into the academy on his 19th birthday.
    He had never had more than one pair of shoes and three or four sets of underwear at a time in his life.
    "This was possibly my first example of government waste," he wrote.
    Bill Gates of the '60s

    As of July, Forbes estimated Perot's wealth at $4.1 billion, making him the 478th-richest person in world. That didn't include the riches he bestowed on his family and community.
    Forbes ranked Perot's self-made quotient as a full-fledged 10. That's because he started his empire on his 32nd birthday as a one-man operation financed with $1,000 borrowed from Margot.



    Perot came up with the name Electronic Data Systems while attending Sunday service at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, where he and Margot have been members since moving to Dallas in 1957. He scribbled it down on the back of a pledge envelope.
    Perot became a multimillionaire when he took EDS public in 1968.

    In a 2018 interview, Perot Jr. described the family's dinner the night before the company's IPO. "Dad said, 'Now tomorrow, we're going to take EDS public, and a lot of people are going to write about the money that we have. But remember, none of this is important. The only thing that's important is our family and how we take care and respect our family.'
    "That's the first time we ever had a money conversation in the family.
    "Then we watched Dad become the Bill Gates of the '60s. As I tell the children, Fortune said he was 'the fastest, richest Texan ever.' "
    Fortune added the "H." to Perot's name when it put him on its cover after EDS went public. "The media took to it, and it stuck," said Perot Jr.
    Perot became a billionaire in 1984 when General Motors Corp. bought EDS for nearly $2.6 billion.



    But the marriage of titans was short-lived, with Perot and GM chairman Roger Smith at loggerheads over such things as GM's two underfunded employee pension plans while top management's retirement plan had no such deficit.
    GM wanted to make acquisitions. Perot wanted to make better cars.

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    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

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    I know that the Vietnam POW's are very grateful for Ross Perot's support of them and their families during their ordeal. He was instrumental in getting attention paid to them. I love the quote that he was a Boy Scout who knew how to street fight.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

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    Some good people I know voted for him, at least in 1992.

    I enjoyed some of his folksy rhetoric, but I believe he got Bill Clinton elected. That certainly changed recent history.
    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." óCNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

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    Boy, those charts of his!

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    I voted for him in 1992, but if I had thought he had a real chance of winning I wouldn't have. He seemed a bit flaky to me. His take on NAFTA wasn't too far off the mark, though. I voted for him because at the time I wanted to support third parties, and if he got more than 5% of the vote it would unlock federal funding for his Reform Party in subsequent elections. But, then the Reform Party didn't accomplish anything except getting Jesse Ventura elected Governor of Minnesota. So, hooray, I guess.

    George H. W. Bush believed that Perot cost him that election, and I think he was probably right about that.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Some good people I know voted for him, at least in 1992.

    I enjoyed some of his folksy rhetoric, but I believe he got Bill Clinton elected. That certainly changed recent history.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    I voted for him in 1992, but if I had thought he had a real chance of winning I wouldn't have. He seemed a bit flaky to me. His take on NAFTA wasn't too far off the mark, though. I voted for him because at the time I wanted to support third parties, and if he got more than 5% of the vote it would unlock federal funding for his Reform Party in subsequent elections. But, then the Reform Party didn't accomplish anything except getting Jesse Ventura elected Governor of Minnesota. So, hooray, I guess.

    George H. W. Bush believed that Perot cost him that election, and I think he was probably right about that.
    I voted for him in 1992 because I thought he should win and I wanted a viable 3rd party. I don't think he cost Bush '41 the election, Bush '41 lost my vote all by himself.

    I was very disappointed with the Reform Party squandering their chance to stay relevant. Jesse Ventura?
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott View Post
    I don't think he cost Bush '41 the election, Bush '41 lost my vote all by himself.
    If he had dropped out (or, if he had stayed dropped out) who would you have voted for?

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    If he had dropped out (or, if he had stayed dropped out) who would you have voted for?
    Bush '41.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

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    I voted for him.

    I used to do a hilarious imitation of him mostly because I know my way around a paper flip chart. (PTSD - the struggle is real).

    Rest in Peace.

    A radio guy out here met him much later and said he was a friendly, down-to-earth guy despite being richer than Midas.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott View Post
    Bush '41.
    So he cost Bush your vote. You're probably not the only one.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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