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Obituary – Ross Perot



Two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, a colorful and self-made Texas billionaire who was a big supporter of the Tennessee Walking Horse, passed away Tuesday, July 9 at the age of 89.  

After rising from a childhood of Depression-era poverty Perot went on to succeed in numerous business ventures that led to him running as a third-party candidate twice; in 1992 he received an unprecedented 19 percent of the vote.

The cause of death was leukemia, a family spokesman told the Associated Press. 

Perot had a strong connection to the waking horse industry. His son Ross Jr. was more involved in showing, but Perot enjoyed many trips to the Celebration over the years. 

Even outside of Shelbyville, Tennessee, Perot continued to showcase his love for the breed. One time, he anonymously donated 20 walking horses to the New York City police, which they gladly accepted and ended up loving the horse for their smooth gait. It was later revealed Perot was the anonymous donator, to which he replied, “You got me.”

As a boy in Texarkana, Texas, Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony. He earned his billions in a more modern way, however. After attending the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming a salesman for IBM, he went his own way — creating and building Electronic Data Systems Corp., which helped other companies manage their computer networks.

However, the most famous event in Perot’s business career happened when he financed a private commando raid in 1979 to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran. The story of this event later turned into a book and movie. 

According to the AP report, Perot first became known to Americans outside of business circles by claiming that the U.S. government left behind hundreds of American soldiers who were missing or imprisoned at the end of the Vietnam War. Perot fanned the issue at home and discussed it privately with Vietnamese officials in the 1980s, angering the Reagan administration, which was formally negotiating with Vietnam’s government.
Perot’s wealth, fame and confident prescription for the nation’s economic ills propelled his 1992 campaign against President George H.W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. Some Republicans blamed him for Bush’s loss to Clinton as Perot garnered the largest percentage of votes for a third-party candidate since former President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 bid.

During the campaign, Perot spent $63.5 million of his own money and bought 30-minute television spots. He used charts and graphs to make his points, summarizing them with a line that became a national catchphrase: “It’s just that simple.”

Even after the failed campaign, Perot’s ideas on trade and deficit reduction remained part of the political landscape. He blamed both major parties for running up a huge federal budget deficit and allowing American jobs to be sent to other countries. The movement of U.S. jobs to Mexico, he said, created a “giant sucking sound.”

While he worked at Perot Systems in suburban Dallas, entire hallways were filled with memorabilia from soldiers and POWs that Perot had helped. His personal office was dominated by large paintings of his wife and five children and bronze sculptures by Frederic Remington.

Several original Norman Rockwell paintings hung in the waiting area, and Perot once told a visiting reporter that he tried to live by Rockwell’s ethics of hard, honest work and family.

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