Conservative activist, billionaire and phillantropist David Koch has died at age 79, NBC News reported.
“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.”
The two brothers have been co-owners of their company Koch Industries based in Kansas since 1983. Due to health problems, David stepped down from his position at the Koch organization last year.
David and Charles were in control of the majority of the energy and chemical company, and were ranked as the 11th richest by Forbes.
At the time of his death, David Koch was worth $42.4 billion.
With the wealth from their business, 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.
The network, led by the nonprofit Americans for Prosperity, has spent more than $1 billion over the past several elections to support candidates that adhere to their free-market, small government libertarian ideals.
The organization sometimes split with the GOP under President Donald Trump. It launched a multimillion dollar campaign last year promoting free trade and warning against tariffs.
David Koch, a prostate cancer survivor, also donated hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research. He was also a huge supporter of the arts in New York City, notably donating to Lincoln Center and $65 million to support a renovation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
When Koch was diagnosed with cancer 27 years ago, he was given five years to live, his brother said.
“David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay,” the brother’s statement said. “We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result.”
“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’,” Charles said.
David Koch is also survived by his wife, Julia, and three children.
“While we mourn the loss of our hero, we remember his iconic laughter, insatiable curiosity, and gentle heart,” Julia said in a statement.
“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,” she wrote. “We will miss the fifth link in our family.”