Bill Gates Sr., father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates died at 94 of Alzheimer’s disease earlier this week. Gates Sr. died peacefully in his home surrounded by family, according to his son. Gates Sr. played a major role in the life of Gates and his family, including advising Gates on legal matters in the early days of Microsoft, helping with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and influencing Gates personally.
“We will miss him more than we can express right now,” said Gates in a tribute to his father. Gates Sr.’s health was in decline, giving time for Gates and his family to reflect. Gates states:
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 Sr., born in Bremerton, Washington on November 30, 1925, went to the University of Washington, served in World War II, and then became a lawyer. Gates Sr. also helped develop the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and served as a co-chair.
Gates Sr. helped shape The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. According to Gates, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would not be what it is today without my dad. More than anyone else, he shaped the values of the foundation.”
Gates shares in his tribute that his father had a profound impact on his life both personally and professionally, stating, “As I got older, I came to appreciate my dad’s quiet influence on almost everything I have done in life.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also shared his thoughts on the passing of Gates Sr., stating, “Bill Gates Sr. is an important part of the Microsoft story; he helped shape our culture, played a vital role in our community, and influenced our philanthropic programs.”
Near the end of his tribute to his father, Gates discusses the influence Gates Sr. had in the home:
Finally, my dad had a profoundly positive influence on my most important roles—husband and father. When I am at my best, I know it is because of what I learned from my dad about respecting women, honoring individuality, and guiding children’s choices with love and respect.
Gates often shared that people would ask his father if Gates Sr. was “the real Bill Gates.” Gates called his father “the real Bill Gates” in his tweet sharing his tribute and closed his tribute with, “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.”