William H. Gates II, the father of Microsoft co-founder and second richest man in the world, Bill Gates, has died at the age of 94, the family said on Tuesday.
In a moving message, his son paid tribute to an "amazing and worthy man" who "had a calm influence on almost everything I have done in life".
The lawyer, philanthropist, and US Army veteran died peacefully on Monday of Alzheimer's disease at his beach house in Washington state.
An obituary attributed a "deep commitment to social and economic justice" to the patriarch, stating that he was responsible for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's early efforts to improve global health.
He has also been commended for advocating progressive taxation, particularly unsuccessful efforts to impose a state income tax on the wealthy in Washington.
"My father's wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility had a great impact on people around the world," wrote Bill Gates in the tribute, explaining that his health has been deteriorating for some time while the family "feels grief."
William H. Gates II (pictured left with his son Bill Gates) died of Alzheimer's disease at his beach house in Washington, aged 94. His son paid tribute to the lawyer, philanthropist, and US Army veteran in a moving message
“My father's death was not unexpected – he was 94 years old and his health had deteriorated – so we all had a long time to ponder how lucky we are to have had this amazing man in our lives for so many years. Gates Jr. wrote.
Gates Sr. was born in 1925 and grew up in Bremerton, Washington, where his parents owned a furniture business. He enlisted in the Army after his freshman year at the University of Washington and was en route to Japan when it surrendered in 1945.
He served a year in war-torn Tokyo before returning to the United States and resuming his education, his family said. After completing his law degree in 1950, he began working in private practice and as a part-time attorney in Bremerton.
He and two other partners founded a law firm in Seattle that eventually became Preston Gates and Ellis – now known as K&L Gates, one of the world's largest law firms. The company was one of the first to work with the region's technology industry.
Gates Sr. met his first wife, Mary Maxwell, at the University of Washington. They had two daughters and a son – Gates Jr. – and remained married until their death in 1994.
Two years later he married Mimi Gardner, then director of the Seattle Art Museum, with whom he spent the last quarter of a century of his life.
"My father's wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility had a great impact on people around the world," wrote Bill Gates in the tribute, explaining that his father's health had been deteriorating for some time while the family "felt grief."
Bill Gates Sr. (left) is pictured with former South African President Nelson Mandela and former US President Jimmy Carter in 2002 in Soweto Township outside of Johannesburg, South Africa
Bill Gates and his father, Bill Gates Sr., visit Bill Gates: A Conversation with My Father at Y 92th Street on June 2, 2010 in New York City
"When I was a kid he was neither prescriptive nor dominant, and yet he never let me get past things I was good at, and he always pushed me to try things I hated or thought I couldn't ( Swimming) and soccer for example), ”wrote Gates Jr. in the tribute.
“And he modeled an amazing work ethic. He was one of the hardest working and most respected attorneys in Seattle and an eminent citizen in our area. & # 39;
This civic work included serving as trustee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Planned Parenthood, and United Way, and as regent of the University of Washington, where he led fundraisers.
He has also served as president of state and local bar associations and served on the leadership of the American Bar Association. He helped create diversity scholarships and promote legal services for the poor.
"Bill Sr. was a person who served the plight of many and he had the resources and endless civic commitment to do something about it," Washington governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.
"He made a decision to use his wealth and influence to advocate and improve justice in our communities."
Bill Gates paid tribute to his father and wrote: “My father was the 'real' Bill Gates. He was everything I try to be and I will miss him every day. & # 39;
Bill Gates and his father Bill Gates Sr. are featured in a social media photo of Gates Jr.
Melinda Gates paid tribute to Bill Gates Sr. and praised his work with the foundation
Melinda Gates is pictured holding hands with Bill Gates Sr.
Gates Sr. was a towering figure of repute and personal – he was 6 feet 7 – and his advice was often sought.
Former Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said that when he struggled to raise the money to buy the six-story coffee chain in 1987, Gates Sr. stepped in to save him from a competing buyer.
Not only did he invest, but he personally took Schultz to visit the rival and when he appeared over the rival's desk said, “You will step down and this kid will achieve his dream. Do you understand me? & # 39;
Gates retired from the law in 1998 and took on a prominent role with the Gates Foundation to begin his work in global health.
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would not be what it is today without my father," added Gates Jr. in his message.
“More than anyone else, he shaped the foundation's values. He was cooperative, sensible, and serious about studying. He was dignified but hated anything that seemed presumptuous. & # 39;
“We didn't work together so much as father and son at the foundation, but as friends and colleagues. He and I always wanted to do something specific together. & # 39; Gates wrote.
“When we started doing this at the foundation, we had no idea how much fun we were going to have. We have only come closer to each other in more than two decades of cooperation. & # 39;
Gates Sr. and two other partners founded a law firm in Seattle that eventually became Preston Gates and Ellis – now known as K&L Gates. He retired from the law in 1998 and took on a prominent role with the Gates Foundation to begin its work in global health
Below Bill Gates' post on Twitter where he shared his message and wrote, "My dad was the 'real' Bill Gates. He was everything I try to be and I'll miss him every day." People paid tribute to his father.
Steven Levy, editor of Wired magazine, wrote, “Sorry for your loss, Bill. I was lucky enough to visit your father who gave me a wonderful interview about … you. He was so proud, especially of you as a father. Condolences to all of your family. & # 39;
Walter Isaacson, author, journalist, and former chairman and CEO of CNN, wrote, "Bill Sr. was one of the most admirable and lovable people of our time."
The family said that due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a memorial service for Gates Sr. would be held later.
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