DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One week ago, H. Ross Perot was laid to rest after passing away at the age of 89.
While North Texans and the nation remembered the man known for his brilliance in business and a one-time presidential hopeful, his family remembers the man most others didn’t know: the husband, father and grandfather who lived for his family, faith and whenever he could, a really good practical joke, even at church.
“Everybody’s serious at church and if it’s a little too serious, Dad want’s to stir it up,” said his son, Ross Perot, Jr. “That’s why he put the fun names in the attendance book, and the girls loved it, and of course my mother wasn’t too impressed with it… He put John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Elvis Presley, my sisters would see it and start to laugh, and that’s all he wanted.”
The only son of Ross Perot said growing up in Dallas, his father and mother, Margot, had simple rules and expectations.
“Number one, we always knew how much he loved us. Number two, we had boundaries,” said Perot, Jr.
And when he and his sisters got out of line…
“The way that he would get to us is that he’d say, ‘I’m disappointed in you.’ And that’s like…boy that hurt. Cause we didn’t want to disappoint our parents.”
When Ross Perot took his self-made company, EDS public in 1968, the next day, he was worth $350 million. But being super rich wasn’t a big talking point in the Perot household.
“Everybody was talking about his money, at home we never talked about it. Then my father would say, ‘look…money is a gift, it’s a tool you can help other people with’.”
Helping others is a legend of their father that is displayed in Legacy Hall at Perot Headquarters.
From supporting POW’s in Vietnam, to Special Forces troops in Afghanistan and many other organizations in between.
But Ross Perot, Jr. thinks what his dad may have relished most, were the quiet missions for veterans that his own family often did not know about.
“He would pick the Sergeant up, bring him to town, take him to the med school and personally help him work through the med school to find what he calls genius doctors. to bring this Sergeant back! He’d go there himself? Oh, he’d go there himself, and then he’d go back at night, drive by the hospital room and check on him,” said Perot, Jr.
That same Naval Academy graduate who had a soft spot for veterans, had an even softer spot for his 16 grandchildren.
“He would drive every night, he got in the habit of coming to see all his children and grandchildren. He said, ‘I just want to give everybody a kiss before they go to bed’.”
But after 89 years of a life well-lived and shared, all the money in the world couldn’t change the words spoken in February of this year. Ross Perot had terminal leukemia.
“It was a very difficult time for us to be there…and I think we were all stunned. It took a few days for all of us to realize what it really meant.”
In an instant, the decades of big business deals couldn’t even compare to the priceless dances with his grandchildren.
A marriage of faith and love for nearly 63 years with Margot and some of the last words spoken between a father and a son.
“I told him how much I loved him, he told me how much he loved me and I said, ‘Dad I’m so proud of you and what you’ve done for us.’ And then he said the same thing to me. How proud he was of me, for a father and son, we literally had nothing else to say, we’d said it all. It was beautiful.”