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Distinguished guests....Thank you for being with us today.
We are honored by your presence.
And have been moved by the outpouring of love and support we have received over the past few days.
On behalf of our entire family, we thank you.
My father was always prepared and loved to plan...He was a man who paid attention to the details.
The one thing he did not plan, however, was his own funeral.
But I can assure you...Looking across this sanctuary today and who is here...Dad would have loved every minute of this. This is an extraodinarily special event for him.
I remember in 1992, a reporter looked at me and said:
"It must be tough to be the son of Ross Perot."
I looked at him and thought – "define tough."
Because if you were a part of our family...You were in for an amazing adventure...One filled with unconditional love and lots of action with Papa.
In our family, he was our hero.
Ross Perot had a strong set of values and those values guided his actions.
He was born to Gabriel and Lulu May Perotin 1930 in Texarkana, Texas. Dad always said his first big break in life was being born to two loving parents.
They taught him and his sister Bette the value of faith and family. In his youth, the Boy Scouts instilled in him a sense of duty.
He earned his Eagle Scout rank at the age of 13 and lived his life by the Scout Oath:
"On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country –and to help other people at all times..."
Dad’s next big break was his acceptance to the Naval Academy where he learned the value of leadership.
He was President of his junior and senior class,and the brigade commander....The Academy also taught him the value of honor.
He chaired the Committee that wrote the first Naval Academy’s honor code that’s still in use today.
These core values –faith, family, duty, leadership, and honor --formed the foundation of his life that would impact millions of people around the world.
But the person who had the greatest impacted on him was our mother, Margot Birmingham.
They met on a blind date...And married on September 15, 1956. A banker’s daughter from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and the son of a cotton broker from Texas....It was the beginning of a beautiful love affair.
After finishing his service in the Navy, my parents drove to Dallas with all their possessions in the trunk of their car to pursue the American dream.
Dad worked at IBM. Mom was a teacher at Greenhill School.
They lived in an apartment only a few minutes from this church.
My first memories of those early days are of Mom and Dad coming into the room I shared with my sister Nancy....We would say our prayers together each night.
I remember Dad would give us a big hug and say:
"BUDDIES TO THE END."
In those early days, my father became the top salesman for IBM...His focus and work ethic were extraordinary.
He was a born salesman, starting at age 6 selling flower seeds, Christmas cards, and newspapers.
He sold so much at IBM, they put a cap on his quota.
I assure you at all Perot Companies, there is no limit on our sales teams!! And my father would make that clear to them on a regular basis. And he would use a phrase from my grandfather. He would say "sell it, you can’t eat it!"
At age 32, with a wife and two children and 1,000 dollars, he started his own company – EDS. His vision was a technology service business and a new industry was launched.
At EDS, the recruiting motto was "EAGLES DON’T FLOCK. You find them one at a time."
He built his teams by recruiting directly from the military because that’s where he knew he could find proven leaders. And he liked combat veterans.
Dad always credited that early leadership team as being the foundation of his success. As EDS started to grow, Mom and Dad’s family started to grow too -- Suzanne, Carolyn and Katherine were born.
As children, we watched what one man could do. Ross Perot would not sit on the sidelines. He entered the fight—full speed.We watched him IN THE ARENA as he came to theaid of the Prisoners of War in Vietnam.
He focused the world’s attention on the plight of the POWs...and the North Vietnamese were forced to improve the conditions for our men.
I remember a few years ago, former POW and Congressman Sam Johnson. Sam,thank you for beingwith us, today. Sam toured Dad’s museum...When he saw the photos honoring POWs, he looked at Dad and said:
"Without your efforts, I would not be alive today."
In the 70s, as EDS was expanding around the world, Dad still prioritized being home for dinner with his family....Sometimes he even brought the world home to us.
I remember having incredible guests around the dinner table: astronauts, fighter pilots, business leaders and political figures, including Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Lord Mountbatten.
Our lives were changed again in 1979 when two EDS employees were taken hostage in Iran.
Again, Dad was in the arena.
Winston Churchill had a famous quote "ACTION THIS DAY" but even that was not fast enough for our father. As Pete talked about "Ross time." Dad wanted "ACTION NOW."
So he risked his own life to visit the two men imprisoned in Tehran.
He also assembled a team of EDS volunteers and under the leadership of Colonel Bull Simons, the men were freed and brought back home.
It became the largest jailbreak in history, a legendary act. The story is told in the book "ON WINGS OF EAGLES" by Ken Follett. And Ken, thank you for being with us today.
His life of service took a surprising turn in 1992, when he entered the arena yet again....This time running for President of the United States.
He knew we could do better as a country and he felt compelled to serve. Our family followed on yet another amazing adventure. After the 1992 and 1996 campaigns, he focused on getting his company, Perot Systems, into "ship-shape." It would become the second company he took public — a very rare feat.
Just like all things he tackled in life, Dad focused on every little detail.
When Dad met clients, he would give them his direct telephone number...He would tell them: "Call me day or night if you have any problems."
I can tell you this, our team made sure, Dad never received that call.
Our father always taught us that financial success is a gift, and a resource to help others.
His generosity supported individuals and organizations in our community, nation, and around the world, including:
In honor of their mother who fed those in need during the Great Depression, my father and his sister Bette, were founders of the North Texas Food Bank and donors.
To honor our incredible mother, his lifelong partner, my father also funded the Margot Perot Women’s and Children’s Hospital at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
In the past few days, we have been overwhelmed by all of the NEW stories we are hearing about what he did for others over the years.
Many of which we never knew.
These were also the quiet acts, or quiet investments my Dad made in everyday people – some were veterans, others just needed help or a compassionate hand.
These quiet acts were the most valuable and the most important investments my Dad made.
Because through these efforts, our father improved the lives of thousands.
My father was focused, he worked hard, and he had a lot of fun along the way.
And, of course, my father loved to celebrate. You couldn’t attend a celebratory event – no matter who was involved or what was being celebrated – without having him call for three cheers....Hip,Hip,Hurray.
Some of my happiest memories in life were spent on the water boating with my Dad. As soon as my Dad could afford it, he bought our first lake house. I also remember going to the boat dealer to buy our first boat – it was used OF COURSE!....Dad loved a good deal, he loved to trade and he only paid cash.
Every Saturday on the way to Lake Grapevine, we stopped at the Howard Johnson's for hot dogs and peppermint ice cream....Those were the makings of a perfect Saturday together for our family.
The Navy gave Dad his love for the water. And as the years went by, his own fleet started to grow.
The boats got faster and louder...When the boats outgrew Lake Grapevine. We moved to Lake Texoma. Then on to Bermuda...He could not outgrowthe Atlantic Ocean.
Nothing made him happier than jumping the waves in his speedboat or pulling his grandchildren on a banana boat.
The Need for Speed was year 'round. We had decades of wonderful memories skiing as a family in Colorado.
Our father was always the first one up on the mountain every morning and the fastest skier down on every run and Pete what you didn’t realize, he was racing you. And in his mind, he was always winning.
Whether it was boating, or skiing, or business, he loved to win and hated to lose. As he once said in a speech...
"There’s no ribbon for second place."
Dad never wanted to slow down. But in February of this year, our family knew we only had months to go.
The Lord gave us another 5 months with Dad.
During that time, he was still going to the office on the weekdays and the lake each weekend.
He was surrounded by his family, friends, and wonderful caregivers.
Mom and Dad would spend their nights holding hands and watching classic movies...And Dad still wanted to dance with Mom.
Our last trip to the lake was three Saturdays ago..
I arrived 5 minutes late...And I still got the look...
On the way out, Dad insisted he stop and give Mom a kiss. At the lake, we sat together holding hands looking at the water.
We did not say much....we did not need to ...
We had said all we could to each other.
He sat in his father’s rocking chair....We looked at photos of his mother and his father.
My father passed away in peace...
Surrounded by his family, holding my mother’s hand.
Condolences have come from around the world, as my father touched the lives of millions.
From Zimbabwe, a family friend wrote,
"THE TOM-TOMS WILL BEAT IN OUR VALLEY --FOR THE LEGEND THIS WEEKEND."
My father had courage, character, and integrity – legendary qualities. A true patriot.
My father will be missed, but never forgotten. Ross Perot did his duty to God, his country, his family, his friends.
He helped other people at all times.
His legacy will live through all he touched.
THANK YOU, GOD, FOR THIS WONDERFUL MAN.
BUDDIES TO THE END.
We gather here today to remember, and pay tribute to a remarkable human being.
A man who was simple and direct... and yet embodied so many of the qualities that define greatness.
He was a source of seemingly limitless energy. He was a practical, "can do" man-of-action and – at the same time – a tireless dreamer. He was Bill Gates, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Rambo, all wrapped into one!
He was tough, creative, and determined: a vibrant, thunderous dynamo. Sometimes he actually seemed to be a kind of thunderbolt!
And he was wise – wise in a sometimes unconventional way – but was always moving forward.
You know, for a long time I thought I had lived an interesting life. Then I met Ross Perot! Wow.
To truly understand Ross, you have to begin at the beginning. Let me offer a brief review:
Ross’s run for the Oval Office was historic. He harnessed the rapidly expanding power of Cable TV, and took his vision and message directly into living rooms across the country.
You didn’t have to know Ross personally to know he meant every word he said. People from all corners of the land saw an authenticity they embraced and, in truth, an authenticity they had been searching for.
They found a man who spoke as much from his heart, as from his gut. Someone who had a special skill at boiling down the problems we faced in honest, understandable terms. And he punctuated his solutions to those problems with his trademark honesty by telling them: "It’s just that simple."
In Ross, Americans found the wholesome, hometown values of Norman Rockwell, combined with the power of Teddy Roosevelt’s "Big Stick".
Somehow, by that special "brew" of character, determination,and spirit, he showed us the best our country has to offer.
Over the years of my friendship with Ross, I came to know and admire him. And it was an honor to be able to call him "my friend".
During our times together I learned a lot about Ross. Two important things stand out:
He never took lessons, or worked on technique, but he truly loved the joy – the thrill! – of being on the mountain in Vail, Colorado.
Though the years, I had the good fortune of skiing together with Margot and Ross, as well as with whatever "band" of family-and-friends happened to assemble on the slopes with them.
The routine with Ross always seemed to be, more or less, the same. At the top of the lift, we would all gather 'round, and begin to plan what Run we would take next.
In the middle of that process – and before a decision had been made – Ross would announce, "I’m off"! And — indeed — "off" he would go.
We'd chase after him, as he zigged and zagged from one Run to another. And almost without exception he would "out-run" our pursuit, and be gone.
It took a while, but I came to realize it wasn’t that Ross didn’t want to ski with us. It was simply that we were operating at normal human speed... while he was always moving at "Ross Speed".
You know... now that I’ve had the opportunity to look back on his life, I’ve come to realize something very key:
That it was living at "Ross Speed" that made it possible for him to accomplish so much!
His unique, accelerated "way of life" gave him the time to create 2 different billion dollar companies... to champion broad education reform throughout the state of Texas... to run for the highest office in the land... And so much more, besides!
During the Vietnam war, Ross pressed forward with unrelenting effort and determination to ease the suffering of American Prisoners of War. It was "pure Perot" from the very beginning and, as we know, it became his lifelong passion and commitment.
Despite all his success,and all his personal attributes that contributed to it, his defining characteristic – the one that gave him the most power, and drive, and purpose – didn’t reside within him. It surrounded him, or rather, he surrounded himself with it.
And that was his family.
They were his pride and joy, and supporting them became a kind of personal creed. No degree of focus or intensity was excessive. No extreme of effort was unwarranted. His loyalty was supreme and absolute. His love unqualified, and profound.
So, as we send off a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a very special friend... it’s a farewell, not a goodbye. Ross Perot will remain a permanent fixture in our hearts, and our memories.
His legacy will continue to inspire those who yearn for more, and who can’t digest the word "impossible"!
His life will continue to speak to the hearts of those of us who cherish the values and hard work that is America.
And while the shadow he cast upon this earth may gradually fade, his spirit will remain a steadfast "torch"... One that will continue to light up the consciousness of this great country, that he loved so much. As Ross himself would say:
"It’s just that simple."
God bless you, good and generous friend. God bless.
KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE – "Texas and America have lost a strong patriot. Ross Perot epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed. He gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country, and around the world. He loved the U.S. military and supported our service members and veterans. Most importantly, he loved his dear wife, children, and grandchildren. Laura and I send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Perot family as they celebrate a full life." - Former President George W. Bush
"Ross Perot was a unique figure in American business and politics who lived a full and fascinating life. Although we were opponents in 1992 and 1996, I respected Ross for his support for our veterans, the business he built, and the passion he brought to his politics. He wanted to do something about the big budget deficit and rising national debt, which kept interest rates too high and took too much of middle-class Americans' income. He was a feisty and effective debater as Al Gore and I can both confirm. We can all be grateful for his enduring patriotism, active citizenship, and devotion to our veterans. Hillary and I send our thoughts and prayers to Margot, their children, and grandchildren." – Former President Bill Clinton
"Ross was a wonderful American citizen who had as much pride in - and love for - this country as any person I have ever known. Whether it be community, philanthropy, family, patriotism or business, he excelled in every aspect of a beautiful American life. He was truly an original, and he will be greatly missed." – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
"Ross Perot was a veteran, successful businessman and philanthropist who spent his life working hard to make our city, state, and country better. He personified the American dream and will be sorely missed." – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson
"Ross Perot believed deeply in our country and always fought for what he thought was right. His mark on Apple and on America made a difference and will not be forgotten." - Apple CEO Tim Cook
"Nancy Ann and I were extremely saddened to learn of the passing of our good friend, Ross Perot, Sr. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Margot and their children Ross, Jr., Nancy, Suzanne, Carolyn and Catherine and all of their many grandchildren. Ross Perot Sr. was a brilliant and visionary businessman, ahead of his time in the establishment of EDS. His legacy of loyalty to the United States of America is legendary. He will be missed ,not just by his family ,but by his many friends throughout the world." - Ray L. Hunt, Dallas businessman
"Just learned of death of H. Ross Perot at age 89. He was a brilliant businessman, a true American patriot, and a generous philanthropist. From humble start in Texarkana, USA he lived and proved the American Dream. Condolences to his wonderful family." - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
"We mourn the loss of extraordinary, courageous patriot and entrepreneur Ross Perot, family friend, who died at age 89. Thinking of his loved ones." – Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief, Forbes Media
"Our hearts are heavy as we bid farewell to Ross Perot. In his 89 years on earth, he lived the American dream to the fullest. Ross is a Texas legend. He will be remembered as an outstanding entrepreneur, philanthropist, and dedicated husband and father. Ross fought for what he believed in & his national grassroots movement changed politics forever. Heidi & I send heartfelt prayers & condolences to his wife Margot and the entire Perot family as they grieve the loss of a loving husband, father & grandfather. May he rest in peace." – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Ross Perot, Sr., a visionary who left his mark on our state and nation. Mr. Perot was a trailblazer who saw Fort Worth’s potential and invested heavily in our city through numerous economic development endeavors. Above all, Mr. Perot was a patriot who selflessly served our country in many capacities. Mr. Perot will be missed, but his legacy will continue to positively impact Fort Worth and change lives for the better. We extend our condolences to the entire Perot family as they mourn the loss of an incredible husband, father and grandfather." – Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price
"Ross Perot was an incredible individual, patriot, entrepreneur and visionary business leader. He was underestimated much of his life and leaves behind a larger than life legacy. He epitomized all that is great about America. Humble beginnings and a great work ethic are stepping stones to incredible success." – T. Boone Pickens, Dallas businessman
EastWest Institute Remembers the Life of Henry Ross Perot
The EastWest Institute acknowledges the loss of Ross Perot, who passed this morning at age 89 surrounded by family members at his Dallas home, following a battle with leukemia.
His obituary remembers, "In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action."
"Ross Perot, Sr. was a man of incredible integrity and vision, emblematic of a generation that always had the best interests of his country and community," commented Dr. William J. Parker, CEO of the EastWest Institute. "Our heartfelt condolences are extended to the entire Perot family."
Born June 27, 1930 during the throes of the Great Depression, Perot became an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts at age 13, and received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in 1949, where he served as the president of his class and chairman of the Honor Committee. It was there he met his future wife Margot Birmingham, with whom he shared 62 years of marriage and five children.
A veteran of the Korean War, Perot went on to become an incredibly accomplished entrepreneur and humanitarian. He received numerous accolades for his contributions to the business and philanthropic worlds including, the Winston Churchill Award, presented by Prince Charles and Nancy Reagan; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for his commitment to national security; the Distinguished Graduate Award from the U.S. Naval Academy; and the National Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He twice ran for President of the United States as a third-party candidate.
He is survived by his wife, his five children and his 16 grandchildren. Perot’s son, Ross Perot Jr., serves as Chairman of the Board at the EastWest Institute.
"My heart is heavy for the loved ones of Ross Perot as they come together to celebrate the extraordinary life of an extraordinary American. He will be sorely missed, but his presence will continue to be felt across our state and nation for future generations." –Rep. Will Hurd, Texas
"We at the Perot Museum mourn the passing of Ross Perot, a Texas giant, just as we celebrate his life among us. Mr. Perot enlivened the Museum with his generous and caring spirit and served as an example of kindness, compassion, and innovation. His legacy as leader, independent thinker, technological trailblazer and American patriot will endure and continue to serve as inspiration in fulfilling our mission. Our heartfelt thoughts are with the entire Perot family at this time." - Perot Museum of Nature and Science
"I've always had the utmost respect for Ross Perot, for his patriotism, love of country, and extraordinary commitment to our veterans. I send my deepest condolences to his family and to everyone who loved and admired him." - Former Vice President Al Gore
"Ross 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. His charitable work and his support of the United States Military and its veterans will forever be remembered. I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in remembering one of the Lone Star State’s greatest sons and keep him and his family in their prayers." – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
The U.S. Chamber and the American business community join with the nation in mourning the passing of Ross Perot: a man of historic proportion, a leader with great courage, and an innovator who always challenged conventional wisdom.
Over nearly five decades, hundreds of thousands of Americans have supported themselves and their families by going to work at a company founded by Ross Perot. Countless others have done the same at businesses launched with the help of or inspired by the one-time salesman turned entrepreneur. He was a vigorous supporter of his employees and a philanthropist with clear objectives and a warm heart.
America was built by men and women who had the vision to create great things and the tenacity to turn their visions into reality—individuals like Ross Perot. Perot exemplified the entrepreneurial spirit that continues to fuel the greatest economy in the history of the world.
Perot also personified the idea of the civically engaged businessman and was perhaps America’s most significant supporter of the U.S. military. In countless ways, he pushed to strengthen the country he loved.
Perot was a friend and an inspiration to me personally and to the entire American business community. The U.S. Chamber is saddened by his passing, and we join countless others in celebrating his legacy, which will serve as an inspiration to future entrepreneurs and business leaders. - Thomas J. Donohue, CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
"Today, we are all mourning the passing of Ross Perot. During my time in the Senate, I had the honor of working closely with him in securing much needed medical care for our veterans returning from Desert Storm. America owes him a deep debt of gratitude and he will be missed." – Former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
"I really enjoyed doing Ross Perot, such a fun character to play. …He loved it and was very nice about it. …He had this distinct Texas drawl and this old-fashioned pragmatic servitude about his policies, and he'd be very impatient when people didn’t get it. He was a colorful American character." – Comedian Dana Carvey, in the Los Angeles Times
"Ross Perot was a true independent who fought for what he believed in and changed the conversation about politics in this country. I'll never forget him announcing his candidacy on Larry King Live or his debate with Al Gore over NAFTA. Rest in peace, Ross." – Talk show host Larry King