Pasadena resident, billionaire investor and local philanthropist Charlie Munger, a close confidante of Warren Buffett and vice chairman of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company, died on Tuesday. He was 99.
“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” said Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive.
According to the statement, the company had just learned of Munger’s death minutes before the statement was released.
Munger had been a Berkshire vice chairman since 1978, working closely with Buffett on allocating the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate’s capital and being quick to tell him when he was making a mistake.
According to Reuters, after Buffett was dubbed the “Oracle of Omaha,” Munger’s followers labeled Munder the “Oracle of Pasadena” after his adopted hometown.
Munger was born on January, 1, 1924, in Omaha, according to CNN. He served in the Army during World War II. After the war, Munger graduated with honors from Harvard Law School in 1948 and moved to Southern California where he practiced real estate law.
In 1959 Munger and Buffet met when Munger returned to Omaha for his father’s funeral.
Through Berkshire, they took control of companies including See’s Candy, Dairy Queen, Geico and Pasadena-based Wesco Financial. The firm also invested heavily in companies including Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo and IBM.
Munger became vice chairman of Berkshire in 1978. He was also the president of Wesco and later became chairman of the Daily Journal Corp.
Munger and Buffett made for a publicly odd pairing. Buffett would often relish the public spotlight, while Munger preferred to remain more of a background player. He was famed for listening intently during Berkshire Hathaway stockholder meetings as Buffett would deliver long-winded responses to questions, then he would say simply, “I have nothing to add,” drawing laughter from the audience.
Last month Munger donated $40 million to the Huntington Library in San Marino, according to the Associated Press.
A decade ago, Munger donated nearly $33 million worth of Berkshire stock to fund a new education and visitors center at the Huntington Library.
The latest donation will be used to construct more than 30 residences for visiting scholars conducting research at the museum.
Munger lost his billionaire status as he consistently donated his fortune to charity. Approximately $1 billion of his stock went into a charitable trust in 2010 following his wife’s death.
He had been generous in his charitable donations to Southern California institutions. In 2007 Munger gave Polytechnic School in Pasadena 90 shares of stock worth, at the time, over $10 million.