DALLAS (AP) — H. Ross Perot, a hard-charging Texan with a folksy manner who made billions in business and twice sought the presidency, was celebrated at a Tuesday memorial service for his devotion to his family, friends, faith and country.
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Air Force conducted an F-16 flyover in the missing man formation during a graveside service at a Dallas cemetery. Both services were private but the church service was livestreamed at rossperot.com .
Perot, who died at the age of 89 on July 9 at his Dallas home, founded computer services giant Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and became one of the nation's richest men. His 19% of the presidential vote in 1992 stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the past century.
"He was a legend. He was a business visionary. He was a presidential candidate. He was a national figure. But he was the most down-to-earth, decent, caring man I'd ever meet," friend Ken Langone said at the memorial at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. "Above all else, that's what he was."
Langone, a billionaire investment banker who helped EDS get its initial financing, said that while Perot will be remembered for "the big, bold moves he made," he'll remember Perot for "the depths of his consideration and kindness."
Perot's son, Ross Perot Jr., said being part of their family meant "you were in for an amazing adventure" that was "filled with unconditional love and lots of action with our Papa."
As a boy in Texarkana, Texas, H. Ross Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony. After attending the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming a salesman for IBM, he created and built EDS. In 1979, he financed a private commando raid to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran. The tale was turned into a book and a movie. He sold control of EDS in 1984 and later founded another company, Perot Systems.
Retired Army Gen. and Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins said Perot was "tough, creative and determined — a vibrant, thunderous dynamo."
"He was a practical, can-do man-of-action and at the same time a tireless dreamer," Dawkins said.