Philanthropist-investor Richard Rainwater dies at 71

Richard Rainwater, left, and his wife Darla Moore, right, talk with Clemson University President Jim Barker, center, before announcing their gift of $10 million to the university Friday Oct. 18, 2002, in Clemson, S.C. Clemson will rename its education school the Eugene T. Moore School of Education to honor Darla Moore's father. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Richard Rainwater, the son of a North Texas grocer who went on to amass a fortune as an investment manager before becoming a billionaire investor and philanthropist in his own right, has died, according to his charitable foundation. He was 71.

A statement issued by the Rainwater Charitable Foundation said Rainwater died Sunday morning at his Fort Worth, Texas, home after a long battle with a rare neurological disease. He had been battling progressive supranuclear palsy since 2009 and had pumped millions into a campaign to finding a cure.

Melissa Parrish, president of Rainwater Inc., also confirmed the death.

Among Rainwater’s career achievements was conducting billionaire investor Sid Bass’ acquisition of a major stake in the Walt Disney Co. and partnering with future President George W. Bush in the 1989 purchase of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

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Forbes magazine listed Rainwater as the world’s 663rd wealthiest person and ranked him 236th in the United States with an estimated net worth of $3 billion in 2015.

The Bass family, heirs to Texas oil wildcatter Sid Richardson’s fortune, hired the Stanford Business School graduate from Goldman Sachs to manage its investments when Rainwater was 26, the statement said. In 1984, Rainwater and Sid Bass invested $478 million in a struggling Walt Disney Co. and helped to install then-Paramount Pictures President Michael Eisner as Disney’s chief executive officer.

In 1986, when he turned 42, Rainwater went into business for himself and later helped to engineer Bush’s purchase of the Rangers, foundation of Bush’s personal fortune.

“I was so saddened to learn that my friend Richard Rainwater died this weekend. Richard had a brilliant mind and a generous heart. He was a lot of fun, inspiring to be around, and generous and courageous to the very end,” Bush said in a statement issued by his office Sunday.

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Rainwater also mentored other investors such as David Bonderman, another Bass family employee who went on to become founding partner of TPG Capital. The firm has helped to recapitalize such businesses as Neiman Marcus department stores, Continental Airlines and Burger King.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes progressive supranuclear palsy as a brain disorder that causes serious and progressive problems with control of gait and balance, along with complex eye movement and thinking problems.

Rainwater hadn’t made any public appearances since 2010, according to the charitable foundation’s statement.

“There is an extraordinary untold story about his heroism and bravery as the symptoms worsened,” son Matthew Rainwater said in the statement.