Praise, tributes flow for Texas billionaire who ran for president twice

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DALLAS (AP) Praise and tributes were following Tuesday after the death of H. Ross Perot, the colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who twice ran for president.

(MGN/file)

Perot died early Tuesday, family spokesman James Fuller said.

He was 89.

Perot rose from Depression-era poverty to become one of the nation's richest men as the founder of computer services giant Electronic Data Systems Corp.

In 1992, Perot jumped into the presidential campaign as an independent candidate, challenging President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton.

Perot drew nearly 19 percent of the vote, the biggest percentage for a third-party hopeful in 80 years. Republicans blamed him for Bush's defeat.

He had founded EDS in 1962 and sold control of it to General Motors for $2.5 billion in 1984.

He later founded another company, Perot Systems.

Temple billionaire businessman and community benefactor Drayton McLane, Jr. called Perot a good friend.

“I remember him as a great leader, a visionary,” he said.

“He was a real patriot who loved America. He also worked hard to upgrade the quality of education in our state. A great philanthropist, I was always inspired when I was around him.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Perot “exemplified what it means to be a Texan and an American.”

“Born into extreme poverty, he rose up to become one our nation’s most successful entrepreneurs and an exemplar of the American dream. More importantly, however, Ross Perot was a devoted husband, family man, and servant of God,” Abbott said.

“His charitable work and his support of the United States Military and its veterans will forever be remembered.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick echoed Abbott’s praise, calling Perot “a great patriot, a legendary entrepreneur and a friend.”

“He was a man of faith and a U.S. Navy veteran whose life exemplified the American dream. His grit, his ingenuity and his fearless and courageous spirit will inspire Texans and all Americans for generations to come,” Patrick said.

Waco-based economist Dr. Ray Perryman says Perot was a visionary.

“He played a huge role in developing the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Texas as a technology power,” he said.

“He was dedicated to improving education and other aspects of the quality of life in Texas and was a great philanthropist who’ll leave a lasting legacy."

Former Baylor University President Ken Starr described Perot as “an inspiring profile in courage.”

“Ross Perot cast a broad shadow across the American landscape, but even in his magnificent record of soaring success, he never lost touch with the simple things of life including a steely commitment to family, hearth, home and school,” Starr said.

“He will always remain an inspiring example of a patriotic American acting in a principled way on the unflinching courage of his convictions.”

(John Carroll contributed to this story)