The Texarkana area lost a famous native son and a friend this morning with the passing of Ross Perot. Long before Perot would gain the spotlight by running for President of the United States on a third party ticket, he was well known and loved in Texarkana. While some grow up in Texarkana, leave, make it big, and never look back, Perot was not this way with his success. Ross Perot always knew his roots, respected his roots, and held tightly to those roots and those roots were firmly grounded in Texarkana.
The Texarkana region came alive on social media around 10 a.m. as news of Perot’s passing spread online. The national reports stated that the 89 year old had suffered from Leukemia and passed away, but here in Perot’s hometown stories, pictures, and memories were already spreading like wildfire. People posted pictures of Perot in his Scout Uniform along with other young men at the local Scouting events. Texarkana College, where Perot was a graduate, immediately sent out urgent notices to the press and scheduled a special press conference. Others talked about how nice the man was, how friendly he was, and how generous he was to his hometown. Several comments were made about how Perot partnered with Texarkana College and helped pull the college through some difficult financial times. It seemed like everywhere you looked on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, there were positive stories and many “thank you” messages to Perot.
The national news has called Perot a “Presidential Candidate,” a “Patriot”, a “Billionaire” a “Boy Scout” a “Businessman,” and dozens of other titles. They have talked about his two presidential runs, they have commented that he may be the reason Bill Clinton was elected, and they have talked about the company he built. As I listened to the national news and compared it to the local comments, one thing came shining through in the Texarkana area. There was one type of comment that seemed to rise above all the national news and reports when it came to Texarkana. The people in the area did not call him the same fancy titles the national news seemed to cling to, what the rest of the world knew Perot to be, but instead, the overwhelming local comments called Ross Perot a “Friend of Texarkana.” Here in Texarkana Ross Perot was loved for his devotion to the area, his help with Scouts, his work with Texarkana College, and perhaps most importantly and above all for simply remaining a “Friend” to his hometown long after many others would have left Texarkana behind in the dust of success. Ross Perot will be a footnote on the world and national stage as history goes, but in Texarkana, he will be an inspiration and lost a friend for generations to come.