Bill Gates Sr.

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Bill Gates Sr.
Gates in 2004
Gates visiting the Naz Foundation located in India in 2004
William Henry Gates II

(1925-11-30)November 30, 1925
DiedSeptember 14, 2020 (aged 94)
Alma materUniversity of Washington (BA, JD)
Occupation(s)Attorney, philanthropist, civic leader
  • (m. 1951; died 1994)
  • (m. 1996)
Children3, including Bill Gates
ParentBill Gates l

William Henry Gates II[1] (November 30, 1925 – September 14, 2020), better known as Bill Gates Sr., was an American attorney, philanthropist, and civic leader. He was the founder of the law firm Shidler McBroom & Gates (a predecessor of K&L Gates),[2] and also served as president of both the Seattle King County and Washington State Bar associations.[3] He was the father of Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft.[4]

Early life[edit]

Gates was born in Bremerton, Washington, in 1925, and was the son of Lillian Elizabeth Rice (1891–1966) and William Henry Gates Jr. (1891–1969), who was himself the son of William Henry Gates, a furniture store owner and gold prospector during the Dawson Gold Rush of 1898.[5][6][4] He graduated from Bremerton High School in 1943.[7]

Gates served in the US Army for three years during World War II.[8][3] He subsequently attended the University of Washington under the G.I. Bill,[9] earning a B.A. in 1949 and a J.D. degree in 1950.[10] While at UW, he was a member of the Chi Psi fraternity.[11]


Gates co-founded the law firm Shidler McBroom & Gates in 1964,[2] which later became a part of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP (PGE). He practiced with the firm until 1998, when it was merged into the firm now known as K&L Gates.[11][12]

Gates' legal practice focused on corporate, technology and disputes.[13] During his career he served as president of both the Seattle/King County Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association.[14]

Gates served on the boards of numerous organizations in the Pacific Northwest, including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce,[15] King County United Way and Planned Parenthood.[9][16][17] In 1995, he founded the Technology Alliance, whose mission is to expand technology-based employment in Washington.[15]

In 1998, Gates retired from Preston Gates & Ellis.[12] He served for 15 years on the Board of Regents for the University of Washington,[18] and until his death was a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,[9] which his son Bill and his daughter-in-law Melinda founded. He served as a director for the bulk retail corporation Costco Wholesale from 2003, and was a founding co-chair of the Pacific Health Summit.[19] He served as an Honorary Chair for the World Justice Project.[15] The project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.[20]

Gates co-authored the book Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes with Chuck Collins. It is a defense of the policies promoted by the estate tax.[21][22] He was also the author of the book Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime.[23]

Personal life[edit]

In 1951, Gates married Mary Maxwell Gates (née Maxwell) (1929–1994), whom he met at the University of Washington (UW), and they remained married until her death in 1994. They had three children: Kristianne, Bill, and Libby. His two daughters, Kristi Blake and Libby Armintrout, are both active members of the UW community.[9] He was a lifelong supporter of the Washington Huskies college football team.[18]

In 1996, Gates married his second wife Mimi Gardner Gates (b. 1943), who was director of the Seattle Art Museum.[9]

In 2018, it was revealed that Gates was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.[24][25] He died on September 14, 2020, aged 94, at his beach home on Hood Canal in Washington state.[4] In a tribute, his son said that his "wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility had a huge influence on people around the world."[26][27]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Bill Gerberding, who was UW president from 1979 to 1995, described Gates as "a good man with a big heart [and] generous public spirit", while former Seattle mayor Norman Rice characterized Gates' core values as "social justice and economic opportunity".[9]


  1. ^ "Bill Gates Fast Facts". CNN. March 2, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Hagerty, James R. (September 16, 2020). "Bill Gates Sr., Father of Microsoft Founder, Dies at Age 94". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Bill Gates Sr., civic leader and father of Microsoft co-founder, dies at 94". The Seattle Times. September 15, 2020. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c McFadden, Robert D. (September 15, 2020). "Bill Gates Sr., Who Guided Billionaire Son's Philanthropy, Dies at 94". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Johnson, Gene (September 15, 2020). "Bill Gates Sr., father of Microsoft co-founder, dies at 94". Associated Press. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  6. ^ "Bill Gates Sr. at 90: A giant impact on technology, philanthropy and the Seattle region". GeekWire. November 25, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  7. ^ "Bill Gates, Bremerton native and father of Microsoft co-founder, dies at 94". Kitsap Sun. Associated Press. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  8. ^ "General Information – Leadership – Bill Gates Sr". Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Glascock, Stuart. "Mighty is the Man Who Wears the Purple and the Gold". UW Alumni Magazine. Archived from the original on January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  10. ^ "PCAD – University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Gates, William H. Sr., Hall, Seattle, WA". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "William Henry Gates Sr". Philanthropic People. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "K&L Gates Mourns Passing of Longtime Partner and Humanitarian William H. Gates Sr". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "K&L Gates Remembers Bill Gates' Lawyer Father". Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  14. ^ "The University of Washington mourns the loss of Bill Gates Sr". UW News. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c "Mr.William H.Gates Sr". World Justice Project. Archived from the original on June 20, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  16. ^ "Is Bill Gates a closet liberal?". January 29, 1998. p. 2. Archived from the original on September 18, 2007. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
  17. ^ "Transcript: Bill Moyers Interviews Bill Gates". NOW on PBS. September 5, 2003.
  18. ^ a b Cauce, Ana Mari (November 30, 2015). "Happy Birthday, Bill Gates Sr". University of Washington. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  19. ^ "About the Summit" (PDF). 2011. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 2, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  20. ^ "World Justice Project". Justice For All. Archived from the original on November 9, 2022. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  21. ^ "Table of contents for Wealth and our commonwealth : why America should tax accumulated fortunes / William H. Gates Sr., and Chuck Collins". Library of Congress.
  22. ^ "Wealth And Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes". 60 Plus Association. March 18, 2003. pp. 57–59.
  23. ^ "Bill Gates Sr.: Lessons And 'Showing Up For Life'". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  24. ^ "Bill Gates reveals personal reason he's helping fight Alzheimer's disease". The Today Show. April 10, 2019 – via
  25. ^ "Bill Gates Reveals His Father Suffers From Alzheimer's". Time. April 10, 2019.
  26. ^ Stewart, Ashley (September 15, 2020). "Bill Gates Sr., father of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, dies at age 94". Business Insider. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  27. ^ Gates, Bill (September 15, 2020). "Remembering my father". The Gates Notes LLC. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  28. ^ Townley, Alvin (January 2007). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press (imprint: Thomas Dunne Books). pp. 172–175. ISBN 9780312366537. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  29. ^ Ray, Mark (2007). "What It Means to Be an Eagle Scout". Scouting. Retrieved January 5, 2007.
  30. ^ "William Henry Gates II".
  31. ^ "Past Presidents". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  32. ^ "History of the Bar". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  33. ^ issue, Columns Staff (June 2001). "Law School to return to heart of campus in new William H. Gates Hall". UW Magazine – University of Washington Magazine. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  34. ^ "National Press Club – William Gates Sr". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  35. ^ "The University of Washington mourns the loss of Bill Gates Sr". UW News. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  36. ^ Bernstein, Adam. "William Gates Sr., a guiding hand of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, dies at 94". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  37. ^ "William H. Gates Hall". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. July 24, 2003. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  38. ^ "Previous Recipients of the Medal of Merit". State of Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  39. ^ "Bill Gates Sr., Theta Delta '49, Honored with 2010 Bard Award". Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  40. ^ "Office of Ceremonies: Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award Winners". University of Washington. Retrieved January 8, 2019.

External links[edit]