Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Billionaire industrialist and philanthropist David H. Koch has died at the age of 79, the family said Friday.
Koch is best known for contributing to right-wing causes and politicians and also donated $1 billion to cultural and medical nonprofit organizations. Along with his brother, Koch ran Koch Industries, a conglomerate of oil and gas, chemical production and textile manufacturing.
Koch battled prostate cancer for many years and announced last year that he would step down from his position at Koch Industries and the Koch political and philanthropic networks to focus on his health.
His older brother Charles Koch announced his brother's death "with a heavy heart" and said he had a "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," the statement from Koch Industries 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. We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result."
Koch ran for office in 1980 as the Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president along with corporate lawyer Ed Clark. He wanted to eliminate all corporate and personal income taxes, Medicare and child labor laws. They got 1 percent of the vote in the primary.
"It's hard to think of another set of individuals who have had such an impact on our political system who haven't been elected officials," Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a political science professor at Columbia University, told the Washington Post.
Koch was a strong believer that minimal government leads to prosperity, an edict he learned from his father, a founding member of the John Birch Society.