We are all saddened here to report that Ross Perot has died at 89 after a long fight with leukemia. Our sympathies and prayers are with the Perot family.
Perot was best known to the world for his unlikely Presidential bids in 1992 and 1996. Republicans accused him of splitting the vote and helping to elect Bill Clinton, showing the big drawback of third party candidates. However, looking back on it, it’s easy to think that his idea of a billionaire businessman with no political experience getting elected President on a platform of fiscal responsibility and ending the exporting of jobs due to bad trade deals might have simply been ahead of its time.
As Dallas residents, my wife Laura and I also knew a lot about Perot’s pioneering role in creating the high tech world we live in today, and his many philanthropic efforts, which you can read more about at the link.
I also have a personal connection that makes this an especially sad day. A few years ago, I lost my elderly Aunt Beda, who was a remarkable woman. At a time when it was almost unheard-of for women to live on their own and have careers, she moved from a rural Texas farm to Dallas, got an apartment and went to secretarial and business school. She eventually became the executive secretary to Sam and Charles Wyly at University Computing. She was so trusted that they ran investment ideas past her, like whether to buy the Bonanza Steakhouse concept.
At the time, there was only one computer in Dallas, and they rented time on it. One of her duties was to train a young salesman named Ross Perot on how to sell computer time. He learned quickly, and obviously very well. She later told me she knew he was going places because he was a “go-getter.” Although when I asked her if she was excited that her old co-worker might become President, she scoffed that he was “too bossy. He’d just go to Washington and gum up the works.”
A few years ago, Laura and I attended a Texas Radio Hall of Fame dinner where he was honored, and I got to meet him. As rich and famous as he was, he seemed very down to earth. When I told him that Beda Page was my aunt, he immediately smiled and recalled their days at University Computing, and told me to be sure to give Beda his regards.
It made me think that maybe he would’ve been a pretty good President after all. I’d rather have someone who still remembered and appreciated the people he’d worked with decades before than some of the recent contenders we’ve seen who, as it’s been so aptly said, “Weep for the masses in public, and kick the dog in private.”