Billionaire and philanthropist H. Ross Perot was remembered Tuesday in two private services. Perot, who died last week at age 89, was hailed as a fiercely competitive man of faith and patriotism who, above all else, put his family first.
Lasting more than an hour, the memorial at Highland Park United Methodist Church drew both laughs and tears. Longtime time friend and financier Ken Langone rememberd one of the few Christmases Perot was not home with his family. That’s because he was in Paris, with POW families, protesting outside the North Vietnamese embassy. They wanted information about loved ones.
"He called me up and he said you know these people are coming home Christmas night and we got to figure a way out for them to have Christmas," Langone said. "This was the genius of Ross Perot. He got you to do things you never thought you could do.”
Langone says a load of toys were trucked into Washington D.C. where the families were staying. They had a Santa.
"They had a Christmas. That was Ross Perot."
Businessman and Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins could not define his friend in just a word.
"He was Bill Gates Leonardo DaVinci and Rambo all wrapped into one," Dawkins said.
Dawkins said Perot was like a thunderbolt. And he moved fast, always wanting to win, like on the ski slopes. With family and friends, Perot would often go first. Others rarely caught him.
"It took awhile but I came to realize Ross didn’t want to ski with us," Dawkins said. "It was simply that we were operating at normal human speed while he was always moving at Ross speed.”
Dawkins concluded that’s how Perot accomplished so much.
To the family, son Ross Perot Jr. said dad was their hero. He said his father loved the water and remembered their last trip to the lake three Saturdays ago.
"I arrived a few minutes late and I still got that look," he said. "On the way out dad insisted he had to stop and give mom a kiss. On the lake we sat together, holding hands looking at the water, we didn’t say much. We didn’t need to.”
Perot said his father died surrounded by the family, holding the hand of wife Margot.