Bill Gates Sr., father of billionaire Microsoft co-founder, dead at 94

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Within an obituary the household imputed the patriarch using a”deep commitment to social and economic equity,” noting that he had been accountable for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s first efforts to improve global health as well as his advocacy for progressive taxation, particularly unsuccessful efforts to pass a state income tax on the wealthy in Washington.

He also joined the Army after his freshman year at the University of Washington and was en route to Japan as it declared in 1945.

He served a year in war-torn Tokyo before returning to the United States and resuming his education, his family said. After getting his law degree in 1950, he began working in private practice and as a part-time Bremerton town lawyer.

He formed a Seattle law firm with two other partners that eventually became Preston Gates and Ellis — now called K & L Gates, among the world’s largest law firms. The firm was among the first to utilize the region’s technology market.

They had two daughters and a boy — Gates Jr. — and stayed married until her death in 1994. Two years after he married Mimi Gardner, then the director of the Seattle Art Museum, with whom he spent the previous quarter-century of his lifetime.

“Once I was a child, he wasn’t prescriptive or domineering, and he never let me shore along at things I was good at, and that he constantly pushed me to try things I despised or didn’t think I could perform (swimming and football, for example),” Gates Jr. wrote in the tribute. “And he modeled an amazing work ethic. He was one of those hardest-working and most respected attorneys in Seattle, in addition to a significant civic leader in our region.”

That civic work included serving as a trustee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Planned Parenthood and United Way, and as a regent of the University of Washington, where he led fundraising drives. He also served as the president of the state and local bar associations and in the leadership of the American Bar Association, helping create diversity scholarships and promoting legal services to the bad.

“Bill Sr. was a man or woman who cared about the plight of several, and he had the tools and endless civic commitment to do something about it,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “He made the decision to use his wealth and influence to advocate for and improve equity in our own communities”

Gates Sr. was a towering figure by standing and in person — he stood 6-foot-7 (2 meters) tall — along with his counsel was often sought. Former Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz has said that when he had been struggling to raise the money to buy the six-store coffee series in 1987, Gates Sr. stepped in to rescue him by a rival buyer — not just by investing, but by personally taking Schultz to pay a visit to the rival, demanding as he loomed on the rival’s desk:”You are going to stand and this child will realize his dream. Can you understand me?”

“Once I was a kid, he wasn’t prescriptive or domineering, and yet he never let me coast along at things I was good at, and he always pushed me to try things I hated or didn’t think I could do (swimming and soccer, by way of instance ),” Gates Jr. wrote at the tribute. “And he modeled an amazing work ethic. He was one of the hardest-working and most respected lawyers in Seattle, in addition to a significant civic leader in our region.”

That civic work included serving as a trustee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Planned Parenthood and United Way, and as a regent of the University of Washington, where he directed fundraising drives. In addition, he served as the president of their local and state bar associations and in the leadership of the American Bar Association, assisting produce diversity scholarships and promoting legal services for the poor.

“Bill Sr. was a person who cared about the plight of several, and he had the tools and never-ending civic dedication to do something about it,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “He made the decision to use his wealth and influence to advocate for and enhance equity in our communities.”

Gates Sr. was a towering figure by reputation and in person — he stood 6-foot-7 (2 meters) tall — along with his counsel was frequently sought. Former Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz has said when he was unable to raise the money to purchase the six-store coffee series in 1987, Gates Sr. stepped in to rescue him from a competing buyer — not just by investing, however by personally taking Schultz to pay a visit to the rival, demanding as he loomed over the rival’s desk:”You will stand and this kid will realize his dream. Do you know me?”

Gates retired from law in 1998 and took on notable roles together with the Gates Foundation, helping establish its work in global health.

The family stated that because of restrictions about the COVID-19 pandemic, a memorial service would be held afterwards.

 

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