Gatton Academy namesake passes away at 89

Carol Martin Bill Gatton passed away on Monday at the age of 89. His financial contributions led to the creation of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science.

UK Gatton College of Business and Economics

Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton passed away on Monday at the age of 89. His financial contributions led to the creation of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science.

Jake Moore, Content Editor

Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, businessman, philanthropist and longtime supporter of higher education, passed away Monday at the age of 89.

Gatton’s donations helped create the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, but his generosity was not limited to just WKU.

Gatton, hailing from Muhlenberg County and graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1954, is UK’s all-time greatest benefactor, donating more than $70 million for scholarship and construction purposes.

In 1995 he made the largest donation in the school’s history to the College of Business and Economics, which prompted the board of trustees to rename it in his honor.

Additionally, Gatton was the primary donor towards Eastern Tennessee State University’s Gatton College of Pharmacy, and the school was named in his honor in 2007.

Gatton owned nine car dealerships across Tennessee, Alabama and Texas, opening his first in Owensboro in 1959.  He discovered the taste for business by selling watermelons as an eight-year-old.

Jace Lux, WKU’s director of media relations, gave a statement saying the WKU family is “saddened to learn of Bill Gatton’s passing.”

“His generosity will continue to benefit countless students across the Commonwealth as they make their way to the Gatton Academy on our campus,” the statement reads. “Few people possess the level of selflessness and vision that he had, and the entire WKU community has been enriched because of him.”

Content Editor Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.