Billionaire David H. Koch has died at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 79. His brother Charles G. Koch announced the death in a statement. David was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992. Surgery, along with radiation and hormone treatments, kept the disease in check for decades.
David Koch was one of the world’s richest people, with assets of $42.2 billion in 2019. He and his brother Charles ran Koch Industries, a Kansas-based energy and chemicals conglomerate. Koch Industries eventually became the nation’s second-largest private conglomerate, with interests in 60 countries, more than 100,000 employees and annual revenue of more than $100 billion.
David Hamilton Koch was born in Wichita on May 3, 1940. His parents, Fred Chase Koch, an oil engineer and entrepreneur, and the former Mary Clementine Robinson, a Wellesley College graduate and the daughter of a Kansas City physician, had four sons, of which David was the third. Fred made millions by inventing a process to extract more gasoline from crude oil and he created the Wichita company that became Koch Industries. After Fred’s death in 1967, his sons inherited significant stakes in the company.
David, a graduate of the Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked for engineering firms before joining the family company in 1970. In 1979, he was named president of his own division and became executive vice president of the parent company in 1981. He ran as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 1980. His run with Ed Clark, an oil company lawyer nominated as the Libertarian presidential candidate, drew nearly a million votes.
David was well-known for advocating for Libertarian causes, including free trade, free markets, and a traditional belief in the liberty of the individual. Since the 1970s, David and his brother Charles have spent at least $100 million on political causes and candidates that would advance their goals. David has also given $1.2 billion in charitable gifts to a variety of institutions, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the American Museum of Natural History, and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.