High-rolling Texas billionaire who had a Midas touch for real estate, entertainment and oil and owned a piece of the Texas Rangers baseball team with George W. Bush.
Mr. Rainwater, though not widely known outside of financial circles and Texas, was a quiet mover of wealth and power throughout the country. He invested in and helped turn around Disney in the mid-1980s, installing Michael Eisner as its chief executive; he was an early investor in the health care company Columbia/HCA, whose chief executive of the 1990s, Rick Scott, is now governor of Florida; and he founded Ensco, the energy company, among others. With Clint Eastwood and other investors, he is also part owner of Pebble Beach, the renowned golf club in California.
Mr. Rainwater was a mentor to some of Wall Street’s most successful investors, many of whom came to Dallas to work under him before striking out on their own, usually with some of his money. One protégé, David Bonderman, turned around Continental Airlines out of bankruptcy in the 1990s and founded TPG Capital, one of the largest private equity firms in the world; another, Eddie Lampert, founded the hedge fund ESL Investments, which owns Sears and merged it with Kmart.
Mr. Rainwater was also a longtime friend of the Bush family and contributed to Bush campaigns; he spent time at Camp David when President George Bush was in office.Mr. Rainwater first made his mark when he went to work for the powerful Bass family of Fort Worth in the late 1960s to help manage its assets. After initially losing several million dollars, he honed a disciplined, diversified approach and reportedly enlarged a $50 million Bass fortune, founded in the oil industry, into $4 billion between 1970 and 1986.
In one deal, in 1984, he made a $400 million profit when Texaco bought back shares from the Basses after Mr. Rainwater had hinted at a takeover bid. In another deal, he invested $500 million in the Walt Disney Company and made a huge profit.
Mr. Rainwater went out on his own in 1986, betting on real estate and oil when prices for both were low. When he saw panic-selling of real estate in Houston in the mid-1990s, he went on a buying spree. When oil prices tumbled in the late 1990s, he invested heavily in oil stocks and futures. Soon after that, crude prices soared.
Mr. Rainwater’s first marriage, to his high school sweetheart, ended in divorce. They had three children. In 1991, Mr. Rainwater married Darla Moore, a South Carolina banker at the time. Along with Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, Ms. Moore was admitted as a member of Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia in August 2012, ending an 80-year club policy of excluding women.
His father, Walter, was a wholesale grocer and his mother, the former Regina Dieb, was a J.C. Penney saleswoman. After graduating from the University of Texas, Richard attended Stanford University business school, where he met Sid Bass, the eldest of four sons of Perry Bass, the family patriarch.
After graduation Mr. Rainwater joined Goldman Sachs as an institutional salesman, but he soon left to join the Bass family business.
Mr. Rainwater is survived by his wife, Ms. Moore, and three children from his earlier marriage, Matthew, Todd and Courtney.more » « less