Henry Ross Perot – the colourful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice ran for president as a third-party candidate – has died at the age of 89.
Perot, whose 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 United States presidential race stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the past century, died early on Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by his family, spokesman James Fuller said.
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, by building Electronic Data Systems Corp (EDS), which helped other companies manage their computer networks.
Yet the most famous event in his career did not involve sales and earnings; he financed a private commando raid in 1979 to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran. The tale was turned into a book and a movie.
Perot first became known to Americans outside of business circles by claiming that the US 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.