16 December 2002 Billionaire high-tech magnate Keith McCaw, whose family created one of the world’s great mobile phone empires, has been found dead in a hot tub at his lakeside Seattle mansion. He was 49.
Police and paramedics tried to revive McCaw, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at about 1.30am yesterday.
Seattle police are not treating the death as suspicious. Family spokesman Bob Ratliffe said that McCaw is believed to have died of natural causes. An autopsy is due to take place later today.
Ratliffe, speaking in New Zealand, where Keith McCaw’s more celebrated brother, Craig, has teamed up with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in a bid to win the America’s Cup yachting event, paid tribute to the late billionaire. “He was just a wonderful guy, a real sweetheart of a person,” he said.
The reclusive McCaw brothers – Craig, Keith, Bruce and John – created the global McCaw Cellular Communications business after their industrialist father, Elroy McCaw, died virtually penniless in 1969.
In 1993, the McCaw business, by then the biggest wireless operator in the US, was sold to AT&T, the US telecommunications giant, for $11.5 billion.
While Keith McCaw increasingly withdrew from business life, Craig McCaw has gone on to play substantial roles in various high-profile technology-sector ventures, including the Teledesic satellite operator whose other backers include Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
Forbes magazine listed Keith McCaw as the 445th richest man in the world in 2002. He is survived by his wife and two children, as well as his three brothers.