David Koch, billionaire conservative activist and philanthropist, dies at 79

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David Koch, billionaire conservative activist and philanthropist, has died. He was 79.

He and his brother, Charles, co-owned Koch Industries, a Wichita-based energy and chemical company, since 1983. David stepped down from running the Koch organization last year due to declining health.

Several public figures have released statements of condolence:

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of David Koch today. David’s success in business is legendary, but it was his passionate commitment to philanthropy that will continue to touch lives for many generations. From the resources he invested throughout the country in cancer research to promoting educational causes like the study of natural history at the Smithsonian, David’s legacy will carry on to benefit others. I appreciated our friendship as I worked with him in Kansas on many areas of mutual interest over the years. Franki and I send our sympathies to Julia, David’s three children, his brothers and the entire Koch family. May their sadness be eased somewhat with the knowledge that David Koch’s life and work left us with many lasting gifts for which we will be forever grateful.”

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

Koch Industries Chairman and CEO Charles Koch, issued the following statement on the passing of his brother David Koch:

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David. Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life.  Twenty-seven years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live.  David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay.  We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result.

“In those bountiful years, he married the lovely Julia Flesher, had three exceptional children, while remaining dedicated to the long-term success of Koch Industries. David also made institution changing philanthropic commitments to hospitals, cancer research, education and the arts. 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.’

“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.”

David retired as executive vice president of Koch Industries in 2018. He leaves behind his wife, Julia Koch, and three beloved children. David’s family released this statement on his passing:

“While we mourn the loss of our hero, we remember his iconic laughter, insatiable curiosity, and gentle heart. His stories of childhood adventures enlivened our family dinners; his endless knowledge rendered him our ‘walking Google.’ His sensitive heart had him shed a tear at the beauty of his daughter’s ballet, and beam with pride when his son beat him at chess. We will miss the fifth link in our family.

“Yet, we wish for all to celebrate the life and impact of this most generous and kind man. He believed he had a responsibility to a world that had given him so many opportunities to succeed. David’s philanthropic dedication to education, the arts and cancer research will have a lasting impact on innumerable lives – and that we will cherish forever.”

Charles Koch – Koch Industries Chairman & CEO

The Koch brothers helped to build a massive conservative network of donors for organizations that work to mobilize voters and sway elected officials in support of libertarian-leaning economic policies.

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