He began working at 7, selling garden seeds door to door and later breaking horses (and his nose) for his father at a dollar a head. When he was 12, he began delivering The Texarkana Gazette on horseback in poor neighborhoods, soliciting subscriptions and building his route from scratch for extra commissions. He did so well his boss tried to cut his commissions, but he backed off when the boy went to the publisher.
He changed his name to Henry Ross Perot in honor of a brother, Gabriel Ross Perot Jr., who had died, just a toddler, in 1927. The family pronounced the surname PEE-roe, but in his 20s he changed that, too, making it puh-ROE because, he said, he got tired of correcting people. He called himself Ross; the media years later added the initial “H” at the beginning of his name, but he never liked it.
In his lifetime, he worked at IBM, served in the Navy as a Lieutenant, founded two computer-data companies (one of which powered paperwork for Medicaid and Medicare), and donated millions to schools, hospitals, scientific research and the arts. He was a self-made billionaire Texan who didn’t make his fortunes on oil and that is a remarkable achievement. A venerable businessman, and later became something of a pseudo-Republican (having run for president under the Reform Party).
Eagles don’t flock, you have to find them one at a time.
In a sense, Ross Perot set the mold for many post-oil Texan entrepreneurs. His legacy of philanthropy continued with his children, and later led to the founding of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, my previous employer. While I disagreed with his personal politics, I retain a great deal of respect for the Perot family. Like many Texans I admire, he was really one of a kind.