Bill Gates Sr.
William Henry Gates II (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), and also served as president of both the Seattle King County and Washington State Bar associations. He was the father of Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft.
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 (not to be confused with Bill Gates (frontiersman)). He graduated from Bremerton High School in 1943.
Gates served in the US Army for three years during World War II. He subsequently attended the University of Washington under the G.I. Bill, earning a B.A. in 1949 and a J.D. degree in 1950. While at UW, he was a member of the Chi Psi fraternity. Gates co-founded the law firm Shidler McBroom & Gates in 1964, 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.
Gates' legal practice focused on corporate, technology and disputes. During his career he served as president of both the Seattle/King County Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association. Gates served on the boards of numerous organizations in the Pacific Northwest, including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, King County United Way and Planned Parenthood. In 1995, he founded the Technology Alliance, whose mission is to expand technology-based employment in Washington.
In 1998, Gates retired from Preston Gates & Ellis. He served for 15 years on the Board of Regents for the University of Washington, and until his death was a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 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. He served as an Honorary Chair for the World Justice Project. The project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.
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. He was also the author of the book Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime. 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. He was a lifelong supporter of the Washington Huskies college football team.
In 1996, Gates married his second wife Mimi Gardner Gates (b. 1943), who was director of the Seattle Art Museum. In 2018, it was revealed that Gates was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He died on September 14, 2020, aged 94, at his beach home on Hood Canal in Washington state. In a tribute, his son said that his "wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility had a huge influence on people around the world."