BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — Legendary businessman and philanthropist Bill Gatton has died.
A close family contact said Gatton died today at Bristol Regional Medical Center.
He was 89 years old.
Originally from Bremen, Kentucky, Gatton moved to Bristol, Tennessee in 1969 and purchased the Chevrolet and Cadillac dealership on State Street.
Over the next few years, he grew his business into the Bill Gatton Automotive Group, which he continued to own until his death.
Gatton has become a household name in the Tri-Cities area through his creative use of television and radio advertising.
Later, he became a generous supporter of education. After a donation in 1995, the University of Kentucky opened the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics. According to the university, Gatton had a bachelor’s degree from the United Kingdom, and his 1995 was the largest donation to the University of Kentucky in its history. The Gatton Student Center at the University of Kentucky is also named after him.
His support for East Tennessee State University led to the 2005 opening of the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy.
No information has been released on funeral arrangements.