Ross Perot (1930-2019)
Ross Perot, a billionaire part-time Bermuda resident and maverick former US presidential candidate, died yesterday at home in Dallas, Texas.
Mr Perot, who had leukaemia diagnosed five months ago, was 89.
He first visited the island in 1957 with his wife, Margot, while he was on leave from the United States Navy, where he served as an officer.
Mr Perot’s daughter, Carolyn Rathjen, said the couple “thought it was the most beautiful place they’d ever seen”.
They bought a luxury beachfront property in Tucker’s Town in 1985 and the family have been regular visitors since.
Ms Rathjen added: “The family still maintains a property on the island. It is everyone in the Perot family’s favourite place.
“His last visit was Easter, where he enjoyed sitting on his deck, transfixed by the sound of the waves and the spectacular view.”
The family said Mr Perot loved boats, as well as windsurfing and waterskiing.
Ms Rathjen added: “Ross also loved meeting and visiting with the year-round residents as well as the summer residents.
“He would always comment on the fascinating collection of extremely interesting people with amazing depth and interests.”
Sir John Swan, a former premier, said Mr Perot’s strong links to the island were “a win-win situation”.
His Ross Perot Foundation supported an underwater archaeology project to work on the wreck of the Warwick, which sank off Bermuda in a 1619 storm.
Mr Perot also backed other island organisations, including the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art and the National Museum of Bermuda. He also made donations to the Bermuda Aquarium for the preservation of Trunk Island.
Sir John said: “He quietly did a lot of things that people would not know about. Ross used his plane to help medivac people out.
“His wife, Margot, was a jewel. They didn’t shut themselves away — they brought a lot of people here as friends and guests.
“Ross also played that role of helping to define us in the world of geopolitics.”
Mr Perot’s 1992 run for president brought international media attention to the island.
Mr Perot ran as an independent candidate for president in 1992 and won 19.7 million votes in the best third-party candidate showing since 1912, when former president Theodore Roosevelt took 27 per cent of the vote.
He ran again four years later, but was less successful.
Sir John said Mr Perot’s first presidential bid “tipped the balance of American history — he helped dislodge President George H Bush, my dear friend”.
He added: “That was a turning point — America became busy domestically, not internationally. Events took place after that which might have gone differently.”
Mr Perot, the founder of Electronic Data Systems Corporation and Perot Systems Corporation, attracted international headlines when a reef off his estate was blown up without permission so his yacht could be moored closer to his mansion.
A later investigation by the Government found that Mr Perot knew nothing of the 1986 destruction and had not authorised it.
Sir John said Mr Perot was “a naturally tough man with a big heart”.
He added that Mr Perot was “put in the forefront” in 1979, just before the Iranian Revolution, when two Electronic Data Systems staff were held captive in the country.
Sir John said: “He organised an operation to rescue them, which put him in the public eye.”
He added: “He was no-nonsense when he was working and could be a lot of fun casually. He and his wife became good friends with me and my late wife.”
Sir John said: “He was a friend of Bermuda who gave us prominence at a time when Bermuda was on the move.
“These are the type of people we can benefit from, that take our message overseas in their sphere of influence.”
He added: “I extend my sympathies to his family and to Margot in particular.”
Mr Perot is also survived by the couple’s five children.
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