DALLAS (AP) — Dallas billionaire and heavyweight GOP political donor Harold Simmons, who has given tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has died. He was 82.
Simmons, born to two school teachers in East Texas, became one of the richest men in the country with interests ranging from energy to chemicals. Simmons' spokesman Chuck McDonald said Simmons died Saturday in Dallas. McDonald said he did not know the cause of death.
Perry on Sunday called Simmons "a true Texas giant, rising from humble beginnings and seizing the limitless opportunity for success we so deeply cherish in our great state."
"His legacy of hard work and giving ... will live for generations," Perry said in a statement.
Simmons' wife, Annette Simmons, told The Dallas Morning News her husband died at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. She said he'd been in Baylor's intensive care unit for the last eight days, the newspaper reported. She did not give the cause of death.
Attorney General Greg Abbott noted in a statement that Simmons "shared his success with the state he dearly loved, giving generously to make advancements in healthcare and to improve higher education."
Simmons' has given tens of millions to Texas organizations, including charities, medical groups, education groups and civic organizations. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern Medical Center, said his donations to their institution alone approached $200 million.
He currently sits at No. 40 on Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest Americans with a net worth of $10 billion as of the fall, according to Forbes.
"Harold Simmons was one of my best friends, and it's never easy to say goodbye to close friends," Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens said in a statement. "Harold accomplished so much in his life. He was a passionate person — passionate about his family, his business, philanthropy and politics. ... We should all leave such a rich legacy behind."