Texarkana mourns death of Ross Perot

TEXARKANA, Texas - Texarkana native, billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate Ross Perot has died after a battle with leukemia.

Perot is known as a politician, businessman and philanthropist, who he never forgot where he came from.

"Mr. Perot left a legacy of that will continue to bless Texarkana College for generations to come," said Mary Ellen Young, Texarkana College Dean of Liberal and Performing Arts.

Young has known the Perot family all her life.

Ross Perot and her father were childhood friends.

Perot was born in Texarkana and became a Texarkana College student in the 1940's.

Serving as class president, community leaders say Perot had a progressive vision for his alma mater that continues today.

"We are going to have an educated community forever in large part to Ross Perot," said James Henry Russell, Former Texarkana College President.

Russell says Perot stepped up to help the college which was struggling financially in 2012.

Perot issued a community challenge, promising to contribute $5 million in donations if taxpayers agreed to expand the taxing district.

"I enthusiastically support this college," said Ross Perot during a ceremony at Texarkana College in 2012. "I have the highest regard for it. I have put the money on the table."

Taxpayers approved the annexation, and Perot made good on his commitment.

Russell says his contributions most likely saved the college.

"It's so sad to hear of losing Mr. Perot, but we really haven't lost him. His life and legacy will impact this community forever," explained Russell.

Current Texarkana College President Jason Smith summed up that legacy with these words.

"He's a great patriot, a great American, he loves his country, he's a US Naval Officer who went to the academy. He's a great business man, a great family man, he's everything we all want to be," said Smith.

There are several buildings in Texarkana named in honor of his family.

The Salvation Army Gabriel Ross Perot Center of Hope is named after Perot's brother who died as a child.

Perot also funded the restoration of the historic theater downtown which bears his family's name.

He was also a huge supporter of the Boy Scouts in Caddo Area Council.

Perot died, surrounded by family, at his home in Dallas, Texas.

He was 89-years old.


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