Remembering The Life of Bill Gates Sr.


Aiden Stanciu, Reporter

Bill Gates. He’s one of the wealthiest people on the planet. Many people know him as the co-founder of Microsoft. As a multi-billionaire. But there’s someone else who has quietly been working behind the scenes of Bill Gates’ success – someone people may not be as familiar with – his father, Bill Gates, Sr. 

According to CBS News, Bill Gates Sr., a lawyer and philanthropist who was the father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, died peacefully at 94 on September 14 at his home in Washington state from Alzheimer’s disease, his family announced. 

Born in 1925, Bill Gates, Sr. grew up in Bremerton, Washington, where his parents owned a furniture store. 

During World War II, he joined the Army after his freshman year at the University of Washington and served a year in Tokyo, Japan before returning to the United States to continue his education. 

He earned his law degree in 1950 and began working as a part-time attorney in his hometown of Bremerton, Washington. He eventually formed a Seattle based law firm with two other partners that became known as K & L Gates, one of the world’s largest law firms. 

Gates, Sr. met his wife, Mary Maxwell, at the University of Washington. They had two daughters and a son — Bill Gates, Jr.

In a tribute to his father, Gates, Jr. wrote, “When 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, for example).” 

On Bill Gates, Jr’s blog he wrote, “I was very lucky to have been raised by our mom and dad. They gave me constant encouragement and were always patient with me. I knew their love and support were unconditional, even when we clashed in my teenage years. I am sure that’s one of the reasons why I felt comfortable taking some big risks when I was young, like leaving college to start Microsoft with Paul Allen. I knew they would be in my corner even if I failed.”

“As I got older, I came to appreciate my dad’s quiet influence on almost everything I have done in life…In Microsoft’s early years, I turned to him at key moments to seek his legal counsel.”

Gates, Sr. eventually retired from law in 1998 and took on the role of co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he worked to resolve issues like world hunger and poverty alongside his son and daughter-in-law.

“The experience of being the son of Bill Gates was incredible,” Gates, Jr said. “People used to ask my dad if he was the real Bill Gates…The truth is, he was everything I try to be…I will miss him every day.”

His family said that due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a memorial service would be held at a later time.

If you would like to read the obituary Bill Gates and his family helped write to his father, you can find it here.