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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Former President George W. Bush said Sunday he was “saddened to learn that my friend Richard Rainwater died this weekend,” according to a press release.

Rainwater was the son of a North Texas grocer who went on to amass a fortune as an investment manager before becoming a billionaire investor and philanthropist in his own right. His charitable foundation confirmed the 71-year-old has died.

“Richard had a brilliant mind and a generous heart,” Bush said. “He was a lot of fun, inspiring to be around and generous and courageous to the very end.”

A statement issued by the Rainwater Charitable Foundation says Rainwater died Sunday morning at his Fort Worth home after a long battle with a rare neurological disease. He had been battling progressive supranuclear palsy since 2009 and had pumped millions into a campaign to finding a cure.

The president of Rainwater Inc. also confirmed the death.

Among Rainwater’s career achievements was conducting billionaire investor Sid Bass’ acquisition of a major stake in the Walt Disney Co. and partnering with Bush in the 1989 purchase of the Texas Rangers.

“Laura and I send our deepest sympathies to his beloved wife, Darla, and to the children he was so proud of: Matthew, Courtney and Todd,” Bush said. “We also send our condolences to his loyal brother, Walter, and to Richard’s family, friends and staff who loved and cared for him.”

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