HIGHLAND PARK, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – During a memorial service Tuesday afternoon, family and friends called self-made billionaire, philanthropist,and one-time presidential candidate Ross Perot a legend, a visionary, but also down to earth and caring.
The Highland Park United Methodist Church said about 1,300 invited guests came to pay tribute to the Texas icon.
Among the dignitaries, former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Roger Staubach, members of Congress, Kay Granger, Roger Williams and Michael Burgess and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick also attended.
Ross Perot Jr. shared moments he spent with his father three Saturdays ago, his final time at their lake house. “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.”
One week earlier, Perot died after battling leukemia.
His son said, “Dad never wanted to slow down, but in February this year, we learned we had a few months to go. The Lord gave us another five months.”
He said Perot still went to the office during the week.
Perot became a billionaire after creating, then selling EDS and Perot Systems.
He ran for President in 1992 and 96, becoming the most successful independent candidate in modern times.
Perot also gave away some of his fortune and his time to various charities in North Texas.
Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Peter Dawkins won laughs for his description of his long-time friend. “He was Bill Gates, Leonardo DaVinci, and Rambo all wrapped up in one. He was tough, creative, determined.”
Another friend, Ken Langone, who was also a business associate and Co-Founder of Home Depot said, “He was a business visionary, he was a Presidential candidate, he was a national figure. But he was the most down to earth, decent and caring man I ever met. Above all else, that’s what he was.”
Perot was a patriot, and his love for this country was part of the service.
Among those not invited, but who felt compelled to come to the church and stand outside some members of Frisco Boy Scout Troop 4018.
Amy McCauley said, “We just appreciate all the things he has done for scouting, he is a great patriot and a great Texan.”
Hours before the memorial service, the U.S. Air Force conducted a F-16 flyover during the private burial at the Sparkman Hillcrest Cemetery.
It was an opportunity for the Air Force to pay tribute to Perot, who tirelessly worked to free Vietnam War POW’s and who continued an unyielding and unwavering commitment to make sure members of the military received top-notch healthcare.
Martha Carlson came to see the flyover and said few people ever receive it, but that Perot surely deserved it.
Ross Perot Jr. on behalf of his mother, Margot; his sisters, Nancy, Suzanne, Carolyn and Katherine; and the extended Perot family released the following statement Tuesday:
“My family has been deeply moved by the outpouring of love and support we have received over the past week. The expressions of sympathy have been a wellspring of hope for our family, and we want to express our appreciation to so many. It’s been an extraordinary gift to hear of the experiences and special memories of those who knew Ross Perot.
To the veterans, former prisoners of war, business colleagues, friends and others who offered your condolences, thank you. To those who took part in today’s memorial, truly a celebration of a remarkable life, thank you. Whether you worked alongside Ross or simply found inspiration in his example, rest assured that he loved you.
He did his duty to God, his country, his family, his friends. He helped other people at all times.
Together, we can keep his memory alive and burning brightly by embodying those virtues he valued most: integrity, excellence, respect and, above all, service.”