Powerful conservative billionaire philanthropist David Koch dies age 79

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David Koch, pictured in 2012, powerful political donor and one of the richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of over $50 billion, has died at aged 79

David Koch, pictured in 2012, powerful political donor and one of the richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of over $50 billion, has died at aged 79

He was the scion to an oil fortune, a twin who has been closely aligned with his older brother Charles in both business and politics, and a one-time vice-presidential candidate that has given millions to Libertarian and conservative causes that have greatly influenced national politics.

Billionaire David Koch, a powerful donor and philanthropist and one of the richest people in the world, has died at age 79. His net worth has been estimated to be close to $50 billion.

With his brother, Charles, who took the reins of the company their father, Fred Koch, had built, they greatly expanded Koch Industries beyond oil refinery to become the privately-held conglomerate it is today, boasting an estimated $110 billion in revenue. 

Fred Koch, who came to hate communism after building oil refineries in the Soviet Union under Stalin, was a founding member of the John Birch Society, which advocated for limited government. Charles and David - who fought over money for decades against their two other brothers, Frederick and William - followed their father's political path by founding the libertarian Cato Institute and became influential boosters of the conservative movement.

Koch, who in 1991 survived a plane crash that killed 33 people and was diagnosed with prostate cancer the following year, is survived by his wife, Julia Flesher, whom he married in 1996, and their three children, Mary, John and David Jr.

Above, the four Koch brothers, William, bottom left, David, bottom right, Charles, top left, and Frederick, top right, in an undated photo

Above, the four Koch brothers, William, bottom left, David, bottom right, Charles, top left, and Frederick, top right, in an undated photo

David Koch, left, with his fraternal twin, William, who goes by Bill, at around three-years-old in the above undated photo

David Koch, left, with his fraternal twin, William, who goes by Bill, at around three-years-old in the above undated photo

Above, the Koch family in an undated photo, with Mary, sitting, with her husband, Fred, standing behind her and their four sons, from left, Bill and David on the left, and Charles and Frederick on the right

Above, the Koch family in an undated photo, with Mary, sitting, with her husband, Fred, standing behind her and their four sons, from left, Bill and David on the left, and Charles and Frederick on the right

Above, the Koch family's Christmas card photo sometime in the 1950s. Fred, in glasses seated, and Mary Koch are with their four sons, Charles, left and seated, Frederick, right and seated, and David, left and standing, and Bill, right and standing

Above, the Koch family's Christmas card photo sometime in the 1950s. Fred, in glasses seated, and Mary Koch are with their four sons, Charles, left and seated, Frederick, right and seated, and David, left and standing, and Bill, right and standing

Born in Wichita, Kansas on May 3, 1940, Koch was minutes older than his fraternal twin, William, who goes by Bill. He was the third son for his father and his mother, Mary Clementine Robinson Koch. The eldest son, Frederick, was born August 26, 1933, and then Charles on November 1, 1935.

A chemical engineer, Fred Koch was in his twenties when he started his first engineering company in 1925, according to 1967 Wichita Beacon obituary. But it was not smooth sailing. Due to a process that he developed that allowed smaller oil companies to compete with larger firms, he was mired in lawsuits for a time. By 1929, his firm, called Winkler-Koch Engineering, was building oil refineries in the Soviet Union. Witnessing Stalin's purges during this time led his anti-communist views, according to Forbes.  

By 1940, Fred Koch started a new firm with partners that would ultimately become Koch Industries and he handed over the company to Charles in 1966, according to news reports and SEC filings. The following year, Fred died at the age on 67 on November 17.

Despite their wealth, Fred was a tough father who made the four boys work during their childhood, according to the 2014 book, Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. 

'He put them to work milking cows, bailing hay, digging ditches, mowing lawns, and whatever else he could think of,' Daniel Schulman, author of Sons of Wichita, wrote. 'The never-ending routine of chores was especially torturous during the summer months, when other local kids from Wichita's upper crust whiled away the afternoons at the country club, the sounds of their delight literally wafting across 13th Street to the Kochs' property.'

Mary Clementine Robinson Koch, David Koch's mother

Fred Koch, David Koch's father

Above, David Koch's mother, Mary Clementine Robinson Koch, left, and his father, Fred Koch, right

Above, Mary and Fred Koch in an undated photo

Above, Mary and Fred Koch in an undated photo

David Koch graduated with both a bachelor's and masters degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied chemical engineering. He is seen above, left, with his fraternal William, who goes by Bill. The twins played for MIT during the 1960-61 season

David Koch graduated with both a bachelor's and masters degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied chemical engineering. He is seen above, left, with his fraternal William, who goes by Bill. The twins played for MIT during the 1960-61 season

After graduating from Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts, in 1959, David went to his father's alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he played basketball along with his twin brother, Bill, and studied chemical engineering, also like his father. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1962 and earned a masters the following year.  

He joined his brother Charles at Koch Industries in 1970, and together they built the company into the industrial juggernaut it is today.

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However, there were family feuds along the way over the company. In 1980, David's twin, Bill, vied to gain control of Koch Industries but failed and was fired, according to Forbes. Bill and Frederick, the eldest, 'sold their stakes in the family oil conglomerate back to Charles and David for more than $700 million in 1983. Feeling shortchanged, the two spent the next 18 years suing for more,' according to Forbes. After the years of litigation, the brothers settled for $1.1 billion, according to HuffPost. 

Fred influenced David and Charles politically. After Fred's time in the Soviet Union, he became a founding member of the John Birch Society. David once said that his father was 'a very conservative Republican and was not a fan of big government,' according to a 2011 Weekly Standard article.

By the 1970s, David and Charles were part of the founding of the libertarian Cato Institute, and in 1980 David ran for vice-president on Ed Clark's Libertarian Party ticket. Their platform included 'ending Social

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