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5 Forever or Forgotten: The Legacy of Today's VIPs - Part 1

Bill Gates - FOREVER

Speaking of Bill Gates . . . of course this guy is gonna be remembered! First off, the richest guy in America always gets a free pass to an enduring legacy. Gates likewise nails every requirement of the memorable American success story. Teenage prodigy? Check. Visionary entrepreneur? Check. Excellent executive? Check. Passionate philanthropist? Check. All that's missing is a hardscrabble upbringing.

Alas, the beloved son of a Junior League president and a pleasantly prosperous attorney, William Henry Gates III enjoyed a privileged and happy childhood; he didn't walk to school in the snow, he walked to the University of Washington to teach himself coding.

Geeky enough to be loved, and evil enough to be hated, Gates will keep biographers busy for decades. And his three children will carry on his name and work hard to maintain his legacy; one can't imagine Bill Gates raising wastrels.

Finally, at 57, Gates could enjoy several more decades of productive work; his father is still alive and vigorous at 87. What could be next for Gates: another paradigm-shifting breakthrough at Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report); a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work for eradicating polio; a personal challenge from which he'll crash and burn or, more likely, survive and thrive? Whatever Gates does for the next 30 years will only serve to maintain and burnish his legacy.

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