Tom Stokes was truly beloved by every current and former staff member, investment committee member, and trustee of the Gates Family Foundation that knew him. During a long career in banking, Tom devoted himself to a wide variety of community causes. Following that career, Tom went on to lead the Gates Family Foundation, Gates Capital Management, and over three decades serve in a wide variety of roles supporting the Gates family, including serving as a Foundation trustee and chair and a member of the Foundation’s investment committee. Tom was wise, funny, and generous. He was an amazing mentor to so many, including me. He contributed much to every endeavor, but always in a way that encouraged and made room for the contributions of others.
Harry Lewis Jr. had a distinguished career in investment banking. But most importantly, he was a tireless contributor to many causes and community organizations over decades. Like Tom, Harry was dedicated to improving the quality of life in Denver and Colorado and expanding opportunity for all. Harry possessed a deep commitment to giving back and an unerring moral compass. When something important was at stake, Harry was always there.
Sam Gary was truly one of a kind. Humble, funny, passionate about the welfare of children and the belief that everyone deserved access to the same opportunities. Sam’s philanthropic legacy over many decades is like an iceberg, with only a small part of the massive reality visible above the surface. Sam never wanted recognition, and never took himself too seriously. Like Tom and Harry, Sam experienced significant success in business. But what motivated all three was a deep commitment to service on behalf of others, an unwavering sense of fairness, and a profound love for Denver and Colorado. For me, Sam was a huge influence, showing me how to focus on what really matters, believe in the dignity of every person, and understand the true meaning of philanthropy. He was in many ways like a second father.
It is impossible to summarize all of the things these three touched and impacted for the better. They contributed to the welfare of children, advancement of science and education, stewardship of Colorado’s extraordinary environment, expanded opportunity for marginalized communities, development of important community institutions, advancements in public policy, and on and on. I feel fortunate to have had each as a friend and mentor. Their collective impact will endure not only in the things they touched, but also through all of the people they coached, supported, and empowered along the way.