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Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch speaks in Orlando, Fla., Aug 30, 2013.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch speaks in Orlando, Fla., Aug 30, 2013.

Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch on Tuesday announced his brother David Koch is stepping away from a day-to-day role with the family’s business for health reasons and is expected to take similar steps to unwind his involvement with the advocacy machine the Kochs have used to shape American politics.

Charles Koch made the announcement via an email message sent to Koch Industries employees and obtained by TIME.

“We are deeply saddened by this, as we miss David’s insightful questions and his many contributions to Koch Industries,” Charles Koch wrote. “His guidance and loyalty, especially in our most troubled times, has been unwavering. David has never wanted to anything for himself that he hasn’t earned, as his sole desire has been to contribute.”

Beyond quoting his brother’s “declining health,” Charles Koch did not describe David Koch’s condition.

The tiptoe toward retirement carries far greater importance than the typical executive turnover. At Koch Industries, David Koch, age 78, carried the title of executive vice president, but his role — and partnership with his brother — gave him great sway over a conglomerate that employs 120,000 people and makes everything from Stainmaster carpet to Lycra cloth to Dixie paper cups and Sparkle paper towels, not to mention vast enterprises with petrochemicals. The industrialist was a force outside of the corporation, as well, given his deep pockets and unflinching confidence in the power of free societies.

Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch on Tuesday announced his brother David Koch is stepping away from a day-to-day role with the family’s business for health reasons and is expected to take similar steps to unwind his involvement with the advocacy machine the Kochs have used to shape American politics.

Charles Koch made the announcement via an email message sent to Koch Industries employees and obtained by TIME.

“We are deeply saddened by this, as we miss David’s insightful questions and his many contributions to Koch Industries,” Charles Koch wrote. “His guidance and loyalty, especially in our most troubled times, has been unwavering. David has never wanted to anything for himself that he hasn’t earned, as his sole desire has been to contribute.”

Beyond quoting his brother’s “declining health,” Charles Koch did not describe David Koch’s condition.

The tiptoe toward retirement carries far greater importance than the typical executive turnover. At Koch Industries, David Koch, age 78, carried the title of executive vice president, but his role — and partnership with his brother — gave him great sway over a conglomerate that employs 120,000 people and makes everything from Stainmaster carpet to Lycra cloth to Dixie paper cups and Sparkle paper towels, not to mention vast enterprises with petrochemicals. The industrialist was a force outside of the corporation, as well, given his deep pockets and unflinching confidence in the power of free societies.

By Philip Elliott 

Posted in: Business, Politics, Society