William H. Gates, father of Bill Gates, dies at 94
William H. Gates, the father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, died at the age of 94, following a battle with Alzheimer's disease, the family announced. He breathed his last at his Hood Canal beach home. Gates Sr., a lawyer by profession, is credited for shaping the globally-revered Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which had an endowment of $46.8 billion till December 31, 2018.
He joined Army, spent time in Tokyo, obtained law degree
Born in 1925, Gates Sr. spent his childhood in Washington. After his freshman year at the University of Washington, he joined the Army and spent some time in war-torn Tokyo. Post his return to the US, he obtained a law degree in 1950, worked privately, and eventually established the Preston Gates & Ellis law firm. The firm, now known as K&L Gates, is one of the largest worldwide.
Gates Sr. and wife Mary had three kids, including Bill
Gates Sr. married Mary Maxwell, whom he met at the University of Washington. The couple had three kids — daughters Kristi and Libby, and son Bill. While he remained occupied with lawyering, Mary raised the daughters and Bill, who was insufferably argumentative. Once, in a rare outburst of anger, Bill Sr. threw a glass of water on his son, after he repeatedly defied Mary's orders.
Years later, Bill sought father's help in charity
Gates Sr.'s interest in civic issues came in handy when his son told him in 1994 about the hundreds of charity requests he receives but isn't able to pay attention to, due to commitments to Microsoft. The father suggested to volunteer in the heavy-lifting. Later, Gates Sr. went through cardboards of letters, with heart-breaking requests, and laid roots for the renowned foundation.
Gates Sr. managed the foundation day in and out
Initially, the foundation was named William H. Gates Foundation, with Bill setting aside $100 million for it. The first cheque for $80,000 was meant for a local cancer program. For the first 13 years, while Bill kept busy with Microsoft, Gates Sr. managed the foundation, shaping its principles of better healthcare, education, and poverty eradication. Eventually, in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was formed.
Never knew my son would be my employer: Gates Sr.
"I never imagined that the frequently argumentative little boy I faced each night at dinner, the one eating my food and using my name, was to be my future employer," Gates Sr. had said in 2003.
In fact, Gates Sr. also helped Bill in managing Microsoft
Gates Sr. played a key role in shaping Microsoft, as well. In 1980, he helped Bill bring on board a friend from Harvard University to work for what is now the world's largest software company. That friend was Steve Ballmer, who served as Microsoft's CEO from 2000 to 2014. "Without me, you wouldn't be here," Gates Sr. once jokingly told his son.
Will miss my dad every day: Bill in heartfelt tribute
In a lengthy tribute, Bill said working with his father on the foundation brought them closer. "We worked together at the foundation not so much as father and son but as friends and colleagues. He and I had always wanted to do something concrete together," Bill penned. Under the blog's headline, "Remembering My Father," he wrote, "I will miss my dad every day.
Bill thanked his father for shaping the foundation's values
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would not be what it's today without my dad. More than anyone else, he shaped the values of the foundation. He was collaborative, judicious, and serious about learning. He was dignified but hated anything that seemed pretentious," Bill added.