04/14/2013 10:41 pm ET Updated Apr 15, 2013

Bob Perry Dead: Major Republican Party Donor Dies At 80

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

Bob Perry, a wealthy homebuilder and philanthropist who was among the nation's largest political givers, has died at his home in Nassau Bay, near Houston. He was 80.

His death was confirmed by lobbyist and former state Rep. Neal T. "Buddy" Jones, a family friend and business associate, who said in a statement, "Bob Perry passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. The family asks for privacy right now as they grieve their loss. They look forward to talking with their friends in the coming days."

Jones added a personal note: "Bob Perry was a friend to many, many people all over the United States, and he was a true patriot. He will be sorely missed. Those of us who knew him were blessed by his friendship."

Anthony Holm, a spokesman, also confirmed Perry's death. "Mr. Perry, one of the finest human beings I've ever met, passed away peacefully in his sleep last night." 

Perry was a major source of campaign cash for conservative candidates — a mega-donor over time to Texas Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry (no relation) and, of late, a $45,000 contributor to nascent Land Commissioner hopeful George P. Bush. On rare occasions he supported Democratic officeholders — almost always those who represented Houston, including state Rep. Sylvester Turner and late state Sen. Mario Gallegos.  He was also a leading backer of Republican political action committees, causes and organizations like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which questioned Vietnam veteran John Kerry’s military service when he was the Democratic candidate for president against Bush in 2004.

He later contributed generously to the Economic Freedom Fund and, in 2010 and 2011, to the super PACs American Crossroads and Restore Our Future.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, he gave $23.5 million to super PACs in the last election cycle, $1.5 million to Gov. Perry in the 2010 election, and $1.9 million to Republican candidates in Texas during the 2012 election cycle. From 2000 to 2010, he gave $28 million to Texas candidates and causes and another $38 million to candidates and groups outside of Texas, according to a Texas Tribune analysis.

Perry was also a major donor to The Texas Tribune, contributing $110,000 in 2012.

Perry was born in Bosque County, earned a college degree from Baylor University and taught high school history and coached before changing careers and going to work in construction and homebuilding. He formed Perry Homes in 1968.

He and his wife Doylene have four grown children.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/04/14/bob-perry-1932-2013/.