Bill Gates’ Father, Who Inspired Bill And Melinda’s Philanthropy, Has Died At Age 94 – Forbes

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Bill Gates Sr., the father of one of the most famous tech entrepreneurs in modern history, has died at age 94. In a post on Instagram, Bill Gates shared the news, saying “I never stopped learning from his wisdom, kindness, and humility.”

Gates also credits his father with spurring him and Melinda toward charitable giving. “Melinda and I owe him a special debt because his commitment to serving the community and the world helped inspire our own philanthropy.”

Four years ago, I interviewed Bill Gates, Sr. via email about what it was like to raise Bill Gates and what role he played in encouraging Bill and Melinda’s philanthropy.

At the time he wrote:

My late wife Mary was a firm believer in an idea from the Book of Luke: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” From the beginning, she instilled it as an important value in our family.

As their wealth grew from Microsoft, Bill and Melinda started receiving lots of letters from nonprofits in the Seattle area asking for charitable contributions. But in those days, it was hard for them to give the time to that sort of thing because raising their family and running Microsoft was very full-time, and having a private family foundation is not a simple operation. Bill and Melinda’s plan was to get serious about philanthropy after Bill retired from Microsoft. That changed after Mary became quite ill with cancer and passed away in 1994, and I retired from my law practice.

Some months later, while we were waiting in line for a movie, I suggested to Bill and Melinda that with my changed condition in life maybe I could help with their charitable activities. I thought it would be a fun retirement job for me and a benefit for them if I reviewed requests for money and gave some away. I called Bill about a week later to follow up and he said, “Well, Dad, we’ve decided that we’re going to establish a foundation with $100 million.” I was stunned and delighted. Not long after that, I wrote the first check: $80,000 for a local cancer program.

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