David Koch, billionaire businessman and influential GOP donor, dead at 79


Conservative billionaire David Koch, who became a household name through the policy and political empire he created with his older brother, Charles, has died. He was 79.

Charles Koch, the CEO of the family's industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, announced the death Friday.

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David. Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life," the elder Koch said in a statement. The statement did not cite a cause of death but noted David Koch's decades-old battle with prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife Julia and their three children.

New Yorker staff writer, Jane Mayer, who also wrote a book about the Koch brothers' influence tweeted Friday morning "Sources close to the family say David Koch has died."

David Koch, a well-known figure in New York, became a major benefactor of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a patron to arts organizations. A dance-focused theater at Lincoln Center bears his name, courtesy of his $100 million pledge in 2008. Last year, Koch Industries said David Koch's donations and pledges to philanthropic organizations had topped $1.3 billion.

"Twenty-seven years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live," Charles Koch said in Friday's statement. "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."

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