Much of the news surrounding the recent death of Henry Ross Perot expectedly focused upon his business acumen at IBM and EDS, his two unsuccessful bids to become President, and his dedication to principles, performance and country. What few Scouters and Scouts likely learned or came to appreciate, however, is that, long before Mr. Perot donned the iconic business attire of a dark suite, white shirt and narrow black tie, he proudly wore the uniform of the Boy Scouts of America.
Beginning as a Cub Scout in his then home town of Texarkana, TX, he would later join Troop 18 at age 11 where he set for himself the ambitious goal of reaching the rank of Eagle Scout in 15 months, the shortest period of time permitted given the position requirements. He met that goal handily at age 13 in 1943. He would later describe Scouting’s impact on him in a video presentation and a biography, “How to Become A Billionaire” by Martin Fridson, by saying:
“The day I became an Eagle Scout was more important to me than the day I discovered I was a billionaire. Scouting taught me to set goals and objectives and gave me my first leadership training and experience, I keep my old handbook in my office to remind me of the principles of Scouting.”
Throughout his life, Ross Perot never forgot Scouting and he remained generously supportive of the organization for decades. His son, son-in-law, and all five grandsons are Eagle Scouts. His philanthropy and personal engagement helped fund Scouting outreach efforts to local underprivileged youth enabling about 12,000 Scouts in Texas to participate annually at no cost. More recently, he and his family funded the Ross Perot, Sr. Family Wing and Hall in the new Tillerson Leadership Training Center at the BSA’s Summit Bechtel Reserve near Beckley, WV. In gratitude, Scouting recognized Mr. Perot over the years with their most prestigious national awards: The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, The Silver Beaver Award, The Silver Antelope Award and, finally, the Silver Buffalo Award.
Scouting is still there today for those young male, and now female, Ross Perots of this upcoming generation. Our Nation needs more Ross Perots who pledge the Scout Oath to be dedicated in duty to God, Country and the service of others; to aspire to live the Scout Law – to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. As Ross Perot’s life demonstrated, these are more than a litany of idyllic traits recited by rote; they are words to live by.
To find a Scouts, BSA Troop near you for the young Ross Perot in your family, girl or boy, go to: https://beascout.scouting.org/.
T.G. Motta – ASM, Scouts, BSA Troop 1717