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For My Dad
On Father’s Day
This week, my father got a lifetime achievement award from the University of Washington. With Father’s Day coming up, this seemed like a good chance to talk a bit about my dad.
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On Father's Day - Bill Gates

Dad and I near the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle.

This week, my father got a lifetime achievement award from the University of Washington as a distinguished member of the alumni. They recognized something that Melinda and I see every day: his remarkable energy and commitment to making the world a better place. I like to keep most of these blog posts focused on the work I’m doing and the things I’m learning, but with Father’s Day coming up, this award seemed like a good chance to talk a bit about my dad.

As I’ve said before, my dad is the man I aspire to be. I especially admire his sense of integrity. He is one of the wisest and most calm people I know. And he taught me a lot about how to think.

Dad is a retired attorney, and I think I inherited his lawyer’s approach to analyzing problems. I spent a lot of Sunday dinners listening to Dad talk about work with my mom, who was very involved in the United Way in Seattle and at the national and international levels. They might discuss a case Dad was working on or an issue that Mom was dealing with through the United Way. Eventually I started joining in the conversations, and they were very influential years later when I got involved in philanthropy.

Melinda and I toasting Dad.

I feel very lucky that I get to work with my dad at the foundation, and that the team there gets to learn from him. Last month, Melinda gave the commencement speech at Duke University, her alma mater, and encouraged the students to spend their lives making the world a better place. I can’t think of a better example of someone who has done that than my father.

What’s amazing to me is that, even at age 87, he’s not done yet. This week I’ve been thinking back to something he said after Mom died. The family was having dinner together at home. Dad sat us down and told us not to worry about him. He said he still had ten good years left in him.

That was 19 years ago, and I’m glad to say he’s still going strong. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

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