Following the death of his father in 1961, rubber manufacturing industrialist and philanthropist Charles Gates Jr. took over the reins as President and CEO of Gates Rubber Co. Because of the competitiveness and volatility of the rubber market, he saw the need to diversify and branched into other fields of interest, including aviation. Charles, affectionately known by many as Charlie, was a pilot and an early believer in corporate air travel. He acquired Combs FBO in 1966 and then Roscoe Turner’s FBO in 1967, renaming his company Combs Gates Network of fixed base operations.
Gates gained controlling interest in Learjet Industries in 1967, which was struggling at the time with accidents and setbacks. He renamed the company Gates Learjet Corporation and instilled new life into the company with new product develop- ment, sales and distribution changes.
Gates Learjet experienced a significant turnaround by 1972 and in a few years was the leader in the corporate jet industry. In honor of his achievements, Living Legends distinguished him at their first event with a “Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award.” By 1987, Gates decided to divest Gates Learjet, which Bombardier later acquired and made an integral part of their company.
Gates and his wife June were great philanthropists. Gates was chairman of the Colorado based Gates Family foundation, which has given more than $147 million to many worthy causes. Charlie Gates died at 85 years in 2005 but left us with his philos- ophy that “we’re only on this earth for two reasons to try to make the world a little better and to have some fun in the process.”
Charlie–because of his enhancements–his humilities, Has left Colorado, America and this world a kinder; A richer place. Because he possessed an honest humbleness, He would prefer little fanfare–...So long “Charlie” – so long noble friend. ~ Cliff Ribertson, August 31, 2005