RIP Ross

Ross Perot, colorful Texas billionaire, dies at age 89

Ross Perot, colorful Texas billionaire, dies at age 89

H. Ross Perot
H. Ross Perot. Photo courtesy of Daughters of World War II

One of Texas' brightest lights has extinguished: H. Ross Perot, one of the Lone Star State's most brash billionaires, died early July 9, according to a spokesman for the Perot family. He was 89.

Nationally, Perot was known for running for president twice: Once in 1992, as an independent, challenging Republican candidate and President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, when he drew nearly 19 percent of the vote; and a second time in 1996, less successfully, when organizers shut him out of the presidential debates.

Henry Ross Perot was born in Texarkana on June 27, 1930. He joined the Navy, then went to work as a salesman for IBM.

In 1962, he founded his own computer company, Electronic Data Systems Corp., which he sold to General Motors for $2.5 billion in 1984, before founding Perot Systems Corp., another computer-services company, in 1988. Dell bought Perot Systems in 2009.

In 1969, Perot also led a campaign to improve treatment of POWs held in North Vietnam. Perot tried to fly supplies and family members into Southeast Asia, a trip that attracted media attention and was said to improve conditions for the POWs.

In 1979, he coordinated a raid to rescue two EDS executives jailed in Iran. The episode was the subject of a best-selling book, On Wings of Eagles, and became a TV miniseries.

In September 2011, Perot's fortune was estimated by Forbes magazine at $3.5 billion.

Perot is survived by his wife, Margot, plus a sister, five children, and 19 grandchildren.