William Henry Gates II , a lawyer and philanthropist best known as the father of the founder of Microsoft , Bill Gates , has died. He was 94 years old. He passed away peacefully Monday at his home on the coast of Washington state of Alzheimer’s disease , the family announced Tuesday.
In an obituary, the family said that the patriarch had ” a deep commitment to social and economic equity “, noting that he was in charge of the first efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the health of the global population. He also campaigned for progressive taxation, a particularly unsuccessful initiative to get a state income tax passed for the wealthy in Washington .
William Gates II was born on November 30, 1925 in Bremerton , Washington . His father owned a furniture store. Like many young men in those days he became an enthusiastic Boy Scout. His studies at the University of Washington were interrupted when he reported to serve in the United States Army during the last stages of World War II, being sent to Japan. He eventually resumed his studies and obtained his law degree in 1950.
” My dad’s wisdom, generosity, empathy and humility had a tremendous influence on people around the world, ” Gates wrote in a tribute.
William H.’s life changed when his wife, Mary Gates , died of cancer in 1994. Thereafter he volunteered to help the Microsoft founder work through the increasingly frequent donation requests. Years later he would become one of the conductors of the Gates Foundation , which has donated $ 53.8 billion in the last 20 years.
” I will miss my father every day” , wrote Gates on his blog in a poignant farewell letter . “ We will miss him more than we can express at this time. We feel pain but also gratitude. My father’s passing was not unexpected, he was 94 years old and his health had deteriorated, so we have all had a lot of time to reflect on how lucky we are to have had this incredible man in our lives for so many years. And we are not alone in these feelings. My father’s wisdom, generosity, empathy and humility had a great influence on people around the world . “
Raising little Gates was not easy, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal . When he was just 12 years old, he began to challenge his parents on topics as mundane as they are current: the order of things or family commitments. The New York newspaper recalled that in an argument during a dinner between Bill and his mother, his father got so angry that he threw a glass of water in his face. ” Thanks for the shower, ” was Bill Gates’ defiant response .
Bill started therapy. His parents wanted to straighten out that rebellious child who questioned absolutely everything. The psychologist warned them: he will win the battle for independence. He recommended giving him some autonomy in his teens and they let him live outside the home. The great Bill was beginning his true formation.