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David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79.

According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, he mentioned that David had battled prostate cancer in the past.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David,” the statement reads. “Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his 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. 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.”

The Koch brothers were well-known throughout the nation for using their massive fortune to further their political interests, and are often credited with giving rise to the Tea Party movement and helping land Donald Trump the presidency in 2016 through monetary backing of organizations that furthered his agenda. Their efforts also helped fund the growth of issue-oriented political advertising in television.

The brothers have together denied that their political activism is self-serving and have distanced themselves from the Tea Party politically, insisting that they are upholding more traditional tenets of libertarianism. The brothers have contributed to organizations like Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which drafts legislation with a conservative bent. They did not publicly endorse Trump, and in 2018 were part of a public rift with the president after Charles denounced some of his polices and the president hit back on Twitter.

In addition to his private interests, David Koch (pronounced coke) was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 1980. He was known as the more outgoing of the two brothers, and could often be seen at New York social functions, unlike Charles, who preferred to remain in Witchita, Kan., where Koch Industries is based. David was also regarded as the more philanthropy-oriented of the two, while Charles handles the business and political side of the conglomerate.

Charles and David Koch became majority owners of the firm their father Fred founded in 1983 after a bitter legal dispute with their other two brothers, who had also inherited interests in the company when Fred died in 1967. Koch Industries has annual revenues in the $110 billion range and interests in more than 60 countries.

While putting a significant amount of their wealth towards lobbying for legislation, the Kochs are also prominent within arts and philanthropic circles, having made hefty donations to organizations like the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

David is survived by his wife, Julia Flesher, three children, and his three brothers.

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