Billionaire industrialist David Koch, who made a mark on American politics with his conservative ideas and money along with his elder brother, Charles, has died at the age of 79.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David,” Charles Koch said in a statement Friday. “Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life.”
Living in New York City, David Koch was the vice presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party in 1980. He was a generous contributor to conservative political causes as well as academic, medical, and cultural organizations.
“While this is a very sad day for us all, I want you to know that David was proud of the extraordinary work you all have done to make Koch Industries the successful company that it is today. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten,” Charles Koch added.
Supporting conservative causes
The Koch brothers were best known for a vast political network they built that, for their far-reaching tentacles in support of conservative causes, became popularly known as the “Kochtopus.”
“I was taught from a young age that involvement in the public discourse is a civic duty,” David Koch wrote in a 2012 op-ed in the New York Post. “Each of us has a right—indeed, a responsibility, at times—to make his or her views known to the larger community in order to better form it as a whole. While we may not always get what we want, the exchange of ideas betters the nation in the process.”
The Kochs invested strongly in battling the health care overhaul of President Barack Obama; they struggled to take conservative voices to college campuses; and they created a nationwide grassroots network advocating for conservative causes and politicians at state and national level.
After battling prostate cancer for 20 years, David Koch told a reporter following the 2012 Republican convention that he was thinking about what he would someday leave behind.
“I like to engage where my part makes a difference,” he told The Weekly Standard. “I have a point of view. When I pass on, I want people to say he did a lot of good things, he made a real difference, he saved a lot of lives in cancer research.”
David Koch donated $100 million in 2007 to create the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also gave millions of dollars to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston and other institutions.
Charles and David Koch, each with an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion, tied in 11th place in 2019 on the Forbes 500 list of the nation’s richest men.
David Koch and his wife, Julia Flesher, had three children.
On Friday, Charles Koch evoked the words of a famous economist as he shared news of his younger brother’s death with their network: “The significance of David’s generosity is best captured in the words of Adam Smith, who wrote, ‘to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature.’”
Includes reporting from the Associated Press.