The father of Microsoft's co-founder has died at 94. Bill Gates Sr., or William Henry Gates II, passed away on Monday at his beach home in Washington State. His family did not specify the exact cause of his death but only mentioned that he had succumbed to Alzheimer's disease.
Gates Sr. was a well-respected lawyer, a civic leader, a trusted mentor, and an influential philanthropist. He is also well-known as being the mentor and long-time advisor to his son Bill Gates.
We will miss him, but we will forever catch glimpses of him in the people whose lives are changed by the work our foundation supports—and in the loving moments our family shares. pic.twitter.com/xBqVOyGS4Y — Melinda Gates (@melindagates) September 15, 2020
In an obituary, Gates' family credited the patriarch as being responsible for the success of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its mission to combat global suffering. He was also credited with his efforts to pass a state income tax for the wealthy, which unfortunately was not approved.
Gates Sr. served as a trustee and member of several civic groups, including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and Planned Parenthood. He also served as a regent at the University of Washington. Apart from practicing law, Gates Sr. was the president of several state and local bar associations.
After he retired as a lawyer in 1998, Gates Sr. took major roles with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He later pioneered the foundation's drive to enhance global health through several international campaigns.
Bill Gates wrote in a tribute to his father that his dad's "wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility" had made a huge impact not only on him and his family but also to the rest of the world.
Gates Sr. was born in 1925 in Bremerton, Washington, where his parents had owned a furniture store. He later joined the army after his freshman year but never saw combat as the Japanese had surrendered while he was still en route to the war. He served a year in Tokyo after Japan's surrender. Gates returned home and finished his law degree in 1950.
After working for several years in private practice, Gates established a law firm in Seattle with two other partners. His firm, called K & L Gates, later became one of the country's largest law firms. Gates met his first wife, Mary Maxwell, while he was in university. They later had three children, two daughters, and a son. Gates remained married to Maxwell until her death in 1994.