Charles Munger, Esteemed Associate of Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, Passes Away at 99

by Ethan Kim
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Charlie Munger Legacy

Charles Munger, known for his integral role alongside Warren Buffett in transforming Berkshire Hathaway into a colossal investment entity, passed away in a California hospital at the age of 99.

A statement from Berkshire Hathaway revealed that Munger’s passing occurred on Tuesday morning at a medical facility, just a month shy of his centennial birthday.

Warren Buffett, in his tribute, emphasized that Munger’s ingenious insights and active involvement were pivotal in sculpting Berkshire Hathaway’s current stature.

As Buffett’s confidant in strategic investment and business deliberations, Munger’s influence extended over half a century, including his tenure as the vice chairman of Berkshire.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Charles Munger Donates $40 Million in Stock to a California Museum

Despite his inclination to remain behind the scenes, Munger was instrumental in Berkshire’s extraordinary trajectory. Buffett has consistently acknowledged Munger’s role in evolving his investment approach from strict value investing to acquiring outstanding businesses at favorable prices, exemplified by the acquisition of See’s Candy.

Buffett has frequently credited Munger for broadening his understanding of business valuation and human nature. He cited these lessons as transformative compared to the principles he adopted from his mentor, Ben Graham, a former Columbia University professor. Graham’s strategy focused on buying undervalued stocks and selling them when market prices rose.

Munger and Buffett’s journey with Berkshire Hathaway commenced in 1962 with stock purchases at $7 and $8 per share. They assumed control of the textile company in 1965. As of Tuesday, the shares value soared to $546,869, marking significant wealth for long-term investors.

Despite living over 1,500 miles apart, the duo maintained a close working relationship, with Buffett frequently consulting Munger in Los Angeles or Pasadena for major decisions.

Munger’s early life unfolded in Omaha, Nebraska, mere blocks from Buffett’s current residence. Although they had childhood connections through a family-run grocery store, their age difference precluded a youthful acquaintance.

Their meeting in 1959 at an Omaha dinner party marked the beginning of a significant partnership. At that time, Munger was practicing law in Southern California, while Buffett managed an investment partnership in Omaha.

Their rapport was instant, leading to regular communication through calls and letters, as detailed in Munger’s biography in “Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.”

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, they shared investment strategies and became principal shareholders in companies like Blue Chip Stamp Co., leading to significant acquisitions such as See’s Candy, the Buffalo News, and Wesco. Munger’s formal association with Berkshire began in 1978 as vice chairman and later as Wesco Financial’s chairman and president in 1984.

Berkshire’s dedicated shareholders, who often filled an Omaha arena for annual meetings, will fondly recall Munger’s candid remarks alongside Buffett.

Munger, renowned for his succinct interjections and incisive insights, notably advised in 2012 on identifying viable investments by avoiding high-commission options.

A voracious reader and keen observer of human behavior, Munger applied diverse analytical models from various fields to assess investment opportunities. His academic journey included mathematics at the University of Michigan, a stint as a meteorologist in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and a law degree from Harvard University in 1948 without completing an undergraduate degree.

Munger amassed a fortune exceeding $2 billion, consistently listed among America’s wealthiest. His philanthropy spanned institutions like Harvard-Westlake, Stanford University Law School, the University of Michigan, and the Huntington Library, among others. Following his wife’s death in 2010, he generously distributed a significant portion of his Berkshire holdings to his eight children.

His governance roles extended to the boards of Good Samaritan Hospital, Harvard-Westlake School, Costco Wholesale Corp., and chairmanship at the Daily Journal Corp.

For more on Charles Munger, follow Josh Funk at www.twitter.com/funkwrite.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Charles Munger Obituary

Who was Charles Munger?

Charles Munger was a renowned businessman and investor, best known for his role as the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and his long-standing partnership with Warren Buffett. He played a crucial role in developing Berkshire Hathaway into a significant investment powerhouse.

How did Charles Munger contribute to Berkshire Hathaway’s success?

Munger was instrumental in shaping Berkshire Hathaway’s investment strategy. He encouraged Warren Buffett to evolve from a strict value investing approach to purchasing high-quality businesses at reasonable prices, a strategy exemplified by their acquisition of See’s Candy.

What was Charles Munger’s relationship with Warren Buffett?

Charles Munger and Warren Buffett shared a close professional and personal relationship. Munger served as Buffett’s confidant and sounding board for investments and business decisions. Despite living over 1,500 miles apart, they maintained a strong collaboration through regular communication.

What were some key achievements of Charles Munger at Berkshire Hathaway?

Under Munger’s guidance, Berkshire Hathaway saw significant growth, with investments in diverse sectors. He was known for his unique investment philosophy and his role in significant acquisitions like See’s Candy, the Buffalo News, and Wesco.

How did Charles Munger impact the field of investing?

Munger was renowned for his deep understanding of business valuation and human nature. He applied various analytical models from disciplines like psychology, physics, and mathematics to assess investment opportunities, influencing many in the field of investment.

What was Charles Munger’s background before joining Berkshire Hathaway?

Before joining Berkshire Hathaway, Munger studied mathematics at the University of Michigan and served as a meteorologist in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He then earned a law degree from Harvard University and practiced law in Southern California.

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