C. M. "Bill" Gatton's start as an entrepreneur began as president and general manager of Bill Gatton Motors in Owensboro, Ky., in 1959, just a half-decade after his graduation from college. That lone dealership has since mushroomed to Bill Gatton Chevy - Cadillac, which now incorporates eight additional auto dealerships in Alabama, Texas and Tennessee. He also opened a Honda dealership in Bristol, Tenn., where he remains owner and general manager.
Gatton earned his B.S. in 1954 from the University of Kentucky. In addition to his degree at UK, he holds an M.B.A. in finance and banking from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1995, he made a multimillion-dollar gift to the College of Business and Economics at UK, the largest gift ever made to the university. In his honor, the UK Board of Trustees later renamed the college "The Carol Martin Gatton College of Business and Economics." Opened in 2006, the East Tennessee State University College of Pharmacy also bears Gatton's namesake.
Gatton also donated a large sum of money to the formation of the gifted academy at Western Kentucky, opened in 2007 as the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, where high school students could finish their last two years of high school taking rigorous college classes.