Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate who has died at the age of 89, was married to wife Margot Birmingham since 1956.
Perot – whose full name was H. Ross Perot – famously upended the 1992 presidential race when he ran as an independent. He ran again in 1996. Margot Perot stood at his side through it all, built a large family with him, and gave up a short career as a teacher. Patron Magazine once described her as having an “aura of uncomplicated kindness, genuine good will, and contentment as a matter of habit, buttressed by discipline and savvy, but not an excess of those lest they cloud the natural sunshine of her disposition.”
Ross Perot’s cause of death was leukemia. His death was announced on July 9, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Margot Perot Is From Pennsylvania & Found Ross Perot ‘Lively’ & ‘Fun’
The Perots came from different worlds; he was a sailor and she an 18-year-old college sophomore named Margot Birmingham from Greensburg, Pennsylvania when they met in 1952, according to an old article in The Washington Post.
After being set up by a friend, she discovered he was “lively and fun” even though he considered her a “Yankee,” the article says. Ross Perot was a Naval midshipman when they first met, and they endured months-long absence while he was at sea, according to Patron Magazine.
She wanted to be a social worker tackling poverty in the inner cities, but once she got married, she decided to go in another direction.
2. Ross and Margot Perot Have Five Children Together But Margot Wanted Even More
According to a profile in The Washington Post back in 1992, Margot Perot always wanted more children than the five children she had with Ross Perot.
“I really wanted one more than I had,” she said, according to that article. “A friend of mine from college reminded me of that not long ago. She said, ‘Do you remember when you used to say that when you called your family to dinner, you wanted children coming from all directions?’ I sort of vaguely remember that. I didn’t dispute it because it sounded like something I’d say.”
One of the couple’s children, H. Ross Perot Jr. was described as the “son of businessman and politician Ross Perot and his wife Margot” by a bio for Inside Philanthropy.
The Perots raised their son in Dallas, Texas, where he graduaged from St. Mark’s School of Texas and Vanderbilt university, according to the bio.
The younger Perot also served in the U.S. Air Force for years and was chairman of the Air Force Memorial Foundation. “Perot expanded the family fortune, largely through real estate. In 1988, Perot founded Hillwood, his real estate development company,” the bio reads of the couple’s son.
3. Margot Perot Used to Work as a Teacher & Had Various Estates at Her Disposal
Margot Perot started out as a teacher, according to The Washington Post article, which says her husband “parlayed the $1,000 she had saved while teaching school into a $3 billion fortune.”
The wealth led to a series of homes over the years, including a “22-acre estate,” vacation homes in places like Bermuda and Colorado) and jets, according to The Post.
Patron Magazine explained that their house was filled with art masterpieces including those by Renoir and Monet.
4. Margot Perot Preferred to Stay in the Background When It Came to Political Matters But Is Involved in Planned Parenthood & Philanthropy
According to an old article in the Baltimore Sun, Margot Perot didn’t get much involved in political questions.
“I’d rather Ross speak out on the issues,” she said in that article. “People are not voting for me, they’re voting for him.” However, the Sun article did say she supported abortion rights, quoting her as saying, “I believe in as little government intervention as possible.”
According to Our Campaigns, Margot Perot “is a dedicated member of the Dallas philanthropic community. She is a founding member of the Dallas County Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, member emeritus of the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army as well as board member and former Chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board of Dallas County.”
The article also describes her as “a sustaining member of the Junior League of Dallas, board member of the Dallas Museum of Art and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The Hockaday School. She is also a former elementary school teacher” and says she has been a supporter of Planned Parenthood of North Texas for more than 20 years.
The 1992 article described her as “devoted to family and community work and making a gracious home.” One of the couple’s daughters told the Sun of Margot: “she’s always put family above everything else.”
5. Margot Is the Daughter of a Bank President & Homemaker
Margot Birmingham was born to a bank president father and homemaker mother, according to the Sun. She was raised in Pittsburgh, and her parents were named Donald Cameron Williams Birmingham and Gertrude Price Birmingham.
Her mother had studied piano, the article reported. Margot’s father’s first wife had died in a 1918 flu epidemic, according to Patron Magazine.
According to Our Campaigns, “Ms. Perot was born in Pittsburgh and earned her bachelor of art degree from Goucher College in Maryland. Ms. Perot and her husband, Ross, have five children, one son and four daughters, and fifteen grandchildren. The Perots are members of Highland Park Presbyterian Church.”