“In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action," his family said

By Adam Carlson
July 09, 2019 10:46 AM

Ross Perot, the tech billionaire who upended the 1992 presidential race with an unlikely and surprisingly popular independent bid, has died, PEOPLE confirms. He was 89.

He died at his home in Dallas early Tuesday his family said in a statement. He was “surrounded” by relatives.

Perot had been diagnosed with leukemia, according to NBC News.

“In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action,” his family said in statement. “A true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of the military and veterans and through his charitable endeavors.”

Perot “will be deeply missed by all who loved him,” his family said. “He lived a long and honorable life.”

A Texas native, Perot is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Margot, sister Bette, five children and 19 grandchildren.

The family will not be speaking further and “is seeking privacy,” a spokesman said. Details of a public memorial have not bee announced.

Though he made his fortune in computers, Perot earned his largest platform with a quixotic run for president in 1992, against incumbent George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Ross Perot
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Ross Perot (center) at a presidential debate with incumbent George H. W. Bush (left) and then-candidate Bill Clinton in 1992
Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty
Ross Perot
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From left: Margot and Ross Perot in 1987
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

As PEOPLE reported at the time: “Perot’s extraordinary bid for the White House laid bare a deep longing for a leader who would make us eat our spinach. Barely three months after that now famous night of Feb. 20, 1992, when he first announced his willingness on CNN’s Larry King Live! to run for President, the Dallas billionaire had ridden to the top of the polls by preaching his gospel of tough love — tax hikes, budget cuts and all-around fiscal discipline. Tens of thousands of volunteers toiled to get him on the ballot in all 50 states.”

In the end, Perot earned nearly 20 percent of the popular vote, the largest total for a third-party candidate in more than 50 years.

He ran again as an independent, in 1996, earning about 8 percent of the popular vote.