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Bill Gates Sr., father of Microsoft founder, dies aged 94

Philanthropist, lawyer, and father of famed Microsoft founder, Bill Gates Sr. has sadly passed away at the age of 94.

Bill Gates Sr., lawyer and father of famed Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, has passed away

The announcement was made by his family on Tuesday, with the cause of death cited as Alzheimer’s disease.

bill gates sr.
Photo: Ann Summa/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Bill Gates Sr. (born William Henry Gates II) was an Army veteran as well as a founding partner in a Seattle law firm. Around the time of his planned retirement in 1994, he started working alongside his son, dedicating his time to responding to an outpouring of requests for charity from the Microsoft founder. Gates Sr. was critical in establishing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, for which he served as co-chair.

“My dad’s passing was not unexpected—he was 94 years old and his health had been declining—so we have all had a long time to reflect on just how lucky we are to have had this amazing man in our lives for so many years,” Gates Jr. wrote on his blog.

“And we are not alone in these feelings. My dad’s wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility had a huge influence on people around the world.”

Gates described the immense influence his father had on his own philanthropy, how he more than anyone else “shaped the values of the foundation”. He also described how they worked together less like father and son, but more “as friends”.

“He was great at stepping back and seeing the big picture. He was quick to tear up when he saw people suffering in the world. And he would not let any of us forget the people behind the strategies we were discussing,” he continued.

Elsewhere, Gates recalls a letter his father wrote him on his 50th birthday:

“Dad wrote me a letter on my 50th birthday. It is one of my most prized possessions. In it, he encouraged me to stay curious. He said some very touching things about how much he loved being a father to my sisters and me. 

“‘Over time,’ he wrote, ‘I have cautioned you and others about the overuse of the adjective ‘incredible’ to apply to facts that were short of meeting its high standard. This is a word with huge meaning to be used only in extraordinary settings. What I want to say, here, is simply that the experience of being your father has been… incredible.'”

Bill Gates also shared a video in memory of his father. To read his statement in full, head here.