Billionaire Harold Simmons, one of the richest men in the country and a major Republican Party donor, died Saturday at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas at 82. He once called President Barack Obama the most dangerous man in America, according to Forbes
Simmons was listed No. 40 on Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest Americans
with a net worth of $10 billion as of the fall.
Known for his savvy investment in energy and industrial companies, Simmons began his financial empire in 1960 when he bought a pharmacy with $5,000 worth of savings and a $95,000 loan. By 1973, he had built of a chain of 100 stores and sold them to Eckerd for more than $50 million.
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Under Contran holding company, Simmons built NL Industries (formerly National Lead); Titanium Metals, which he sold a year ago, pocketing $1 billion, and Kronos Worldwide and Keystone Consolidated Industries, which he recently took private.
According to The Dallas Morning News
, Simmons was one of the top Republican contributors during the last presidential election cycle in 2012.
He pumped millions of dollars into Republican campaigns in hopes of unseating Obama. His philanthropic efforts, though, were varied, as he also contributed to Planned Parenthood and Dallas' Resource Center, which helps the city's LGBT community, according to the Dallas Morning News.
"Harold Simmons was a true Texas giant, rising from humble beginnings and seizing the limitless opportunity for success we so deeply cherish in our great state," Gov. Rick Perry told the Dallas Morning News in a statement. "His legacy of hard work and giving, particularly to his beloved University of Texas, will live on for generations."
The Associated Press
said billionaire T. Boone Pickens added: "Harold Simmons was one of my best friends, and it's never easy to say goodbye to close friends. 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."
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"Dallas has lost a truly generous giant," Doug Curtis, president and CEO of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, said to the Dallas Morning News in a statement. Simmons gave $5 million for the center to be built, according to the AP.
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