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Relentless pursuit of an equitable world

The Optimist

Bill Gates Sr

Remembering Bill Gates Sr., our "north star"

This post is an edited version of a note sent to staff.

It is with deep sadness that I write to share the news that our "north star," Bill Gates Sr., passed away on Monday, September 14 at home surrounded by family. 

It is no overstatement to say that without Bill Sr. there would be no Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as we know it today. His belief that all lives have equal value inspired our mission from the first, and will remain at the heart of everything we do to the last.

His legacy is profound.

Bill Sr. was an extraordinary leader in the global fight against inequity, and a tireless advocate for the foundation and our issues. His impact was also felt across Seattle and the Pacific Northwest through his involvement in organizations, including the University of Washington, United Way of King County, Rotary, Thrive Washington, the Technology Alliance, and many others.

By every measure, Bill Sr. embodied what it means to show up for life.

His generosity, humility, intelligence, and humor were just a few qualities of a great man. He was also a great friend, colleague, and mentor to many, including me. Even as our organization grew, Bill Sr.’s values and pragmatism were a reminder that this is very much a family foundation. Our "north star" will be dearly missed.

Statement from Bill Gates
Statement from Melinda Gates

About the Author

Mark Suzman, the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leads the foundation's efforts to promote equity for all people around the world.