Ross Perot, the two-time third-party presidential candidate, died at 89 after battling leukemia for five months. Perot was diagnosed with leukemia in February and was able to celebrate his 89th birthday in June.
“Obviously a great family man, wonderful father. But at the end of the day, he was a wonderful humanitarian,” his son, Ross Perot Jr., said. Perot Jr. recalled that his father fought his battle with dignity and showed up to the Perot Group office almost every day.
Perot left behind his wife Margot, five children, and 16 grandchildren.
In 1992 Perot ran for president as an Independent candidate and again in 1996 as a third-party candidate. Perot was the last third-party candidate to garner more than 5 percent of the national vote. In 1996, when he ran against Bob Dole (R) and Bill Clinton (D), he won 8.4 percent of the vote.
His 1992 numbers were even better. In ’92, he won 18.9 percent of the popular vote, or 19,741,065 votes. Although Perot did not win a single Electoral College vote, he was the most successful third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.
Perot’s journey into politics began with his involvement in the U.S. Navy and the Vietnam War. He vehemently opposed the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War and lobbied Congress to vote against the war resolution. After his unsuccessful lobbying efforts, Perot decided to run for president, launching historical changes in third party politics.
Perot started his business life as a salesman for IBM. In 1962, he founded Electronic Data System, and in 1984, General Motors acquired interest in the company for $2.4 million.
In 1988, Perot founded the Perot Systems Corporation Inc. in Plano, Texas. In 2009, Dell acquired the company for $3.9 billion. Perot was a true self-made businessman and was successful despite many business tribulations.
With a net worth of $4.1 million, in 2002 the Perot family started The Perot Foundation. The foundation gives towards education, arts, and culture, the environment, and religious organizations in the greater Dallas area. The largest sum of donations goes towards the education category, towards which the foundation gives approximately $4 million in donations each year.
Perot has left lasting effects on politics, business, and philanthropy. He will be greatly missed.