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Like her mother and sister before her, a Pennsylvania ingenue named Margot Birmingham went to Goucher College, in Baltimore. There she met a Naval Academy midshipman from Texas. His name was Henry Ross Perot. Their romance begot a marriage. Like the spouses of many entrepreneurs, Margot played a key -- but overlooked -- role in her husband's business. In 1962, Ross decided to quit his sales job to build a company that would explain computers to the world. Margot, then a schoolteacher, lent him $1,000 of her savings to start the business. Twenty-two years later General Motors acquired Electronic Data Systems, paying Ross enough in stock to make him the largest single share- holder of the largest company in the world. Eventually, GM bought Ross's stock for $700 million. In the following years, the Perots spent $60 million financing a quirky 1992 presidential bid. And the couple donated $1 million to Goucher College.


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