Dallas billionaire, philanthropist Harold Simmons dies at age 82
Posted on December 29, 2013 at 4:23 PM
Updated Monday, Dec 30 at 12:28 AM
DALLAS — Known for his business savvy and generosity, Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons has died at the age of 82.
Simmons died Saturday night at Baylor Hospital in Dallas after several days in intensive care. The cause of his death has not been released.
Amy Simmons said her stepfather "passed away peaceful with his wife [Annette] and children at his side." In 2008, she donated one of her kidneys to her stepfather when he was in kidney failure at the age of 76.
"We have lost not only a loving husband and dad, but the city of Dallas has lost a passionate, generous man that loves his city and those that live in it," she wrote News 8. "He was a very patriotic man who loved his country and always stood for the truth and what is right."
Simmons was born on May 13, 1931 in a small East Texas community to a pair of school teachers.
He attended the University of Texas and went on to become the owner of a drugstore near the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“Annette is an alumna of SMU and Harold started some of his early business dealings at University Pharmacy across from the campus in 1961," said Brad Cheves, vice president of Development and External Affairs for SMU. "So, in a very real way, they've been in and among the campus for a long, long time."
According to a biography posted on the Harold Simmons Foundation website, he continued to expand after purchasing the Williams Drug Co. He soon became a millionaire and eventually became a billionaire through successful investments.
However, many in Dallas County and across the nation know Simmons as a philanthropist, giving to the arts and other causes and organizations, including the Dallas Civic Opera, Dallas Zoo, Young America's Foundation and SMU.
"Harold Simmons was one of my best friends, and it's never easy to say goodbye to close friends," read a statement from T. Boone Pickens. "Harold accomplished so much in his life. He was a passionate person — passionate about his family, his business, philanthropy and politics."
In 1988, he established the Harold Simmons Foundation, which has given hundreds of millions to nonprofits in North Texas.
"Dallas has lost a generous benefactor to many worthy cause," read a statement from former President George W. Bush. "And we, like many others, have lost a friend in Harold."
According to a statement from the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Simmons donated $5 million to help build the center. In 2010, the Simmonses donated $20 million towards transplantation initiatives at Baylor Health Care System.
He also donated $200,000 million over several decades to UT Southwestern Medical Center.
"With it came designation as a national cancer institute cancer center bringing to patients of this region access to innovative treatments that would not otherwise be possible," said Dr. Daniel Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Simmons is currently ranked number 40 on Forbes' wealthiest Americans list.
"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," said Gov. Rick Perry in a statement Sunday. "His legacy of hard work and giving, particularly to his beloved University of Texas, will live on for generations. Anita and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Simmons family."
WFAA's Marie Saavedra contributed to this report
Local News Video