Harold Simmons reportedly died Saturday night. He is remembered as a billionaire, philanthropist and GOP supporter. According to Simmons’ wife, Annette, the 82-year-old had been sick for two weeks prior to his death.
Ranking No. 40 on Forbes 400, Harold Simmons is reported to have come from humble beginnings. Born in Texas in 1931, Simmons was the son of two school teachers.
With degrees in economics and experience in banking he was able to make himself a billionaire. He amassed his wealth by buying and selling company shares using a concept known as leveraged buyout.
His first investment was in a small drug store. In Simmons’ hands, the small business became a chain of 100 stores. The businessman sold the company in 1973 for $50 million. He had invested $5,000 of his savings into it, in addition to obtaining $95,000 in loans.
Simmons made his mark on the political scene by contributing a lot of his money into the Republican Party. The billionaire began making contributions to the party in the 1980s, during Reagan’s presidency. In recent years, he has made huge contributions to the party in opposition of Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and Barack Obama.
In 2012 elections, Simmons gave millions to super PACs opposing then-candidate Barack Obama. According to Simmons, President Obama is “the most dangerous American alive,” because of his perceived intentions to “eliminate free enterprise.”
Harold Simmons has been married three times. His two daughters, Scheryle and Lisa, are from his first marriage. His first wife walked out on him in 1959, leaving him with the two girls. Andrea and Serena are his daughters from his second marriage, to Sandra Simmons. His third wife, Annette, had two children of her own, from a previous marriage.
In 1996 Andrea and Scheryle filed a lawsuit against their father for their trust fund money. They women claimed that Simmons had placed the money in a trust with no intention of giving it to them. They believed that with sole control of the trusts, Simmons was continuing to live a good life without complications from the IRS. Simmons’ response was that he had provided for his daughters throughout their lives and should no longer be required to. The bitter suit ended with Simmons giving each girl $50 million to drop their claims.
According to Amy Simmons, Harold’s stepdaughter, he had been in the intensive care unit at Baylor Hospital in Dallas for several days, until his death on Saturday. The cause of Simmons’ death has not been released.
What is known is that in 2008 Harold Simmons was hospitalized for kidney failure. His stepdaughter Amy donated one of her kidneys to him, he was 76 years old.
Harold Simmons is known for his generous heart. In addition to contributions to the Republican Party, he has made many donations to the public. Known for his generosity, Simmons established the Harold Simmons Foundation in 1988. Since then, the foundation has given hundreds of millions to many nonprofit organizations. The foundation is currently run by Simmons’ daughters, Lisa and Serena.
Governor Rick Perry released a statement Sunday honoring the “true Texas giant.” For those close to Simmons, his death on Saturday was a great loss of a hardworking and giving man. As expressed by Governor Perry, his legacy will live on.
By Earnestine Jones