Early life and Education
Buffett was born in 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of three children and the only son of Leila (née Stahl) and Congressman Howard Buffett. He began his education at Rose Hill Elementary School. In 1942, his father was elected to the first of four terms in the United States Congress, and after moving with his family to Washington, D.C., Warren finished elementary school, attended Alice Deal Junior High School and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1947, where his senior yearbook picture reads: "likes math; a future stockbroker." After finishing high school and finding success with his side entrepreneurial and investment ventures, Buffett wanted to skip college to go directly into business but was overruled by his father.
Buffett worked from 1951 to 1954 at Buffett-Falk & Co. as an investment salesman; from 1954 to 1956 at Graham-Newman Corp. as a securities analyst; from 1956 to 1969 at Buffett Partnership, Ltd. as a general partner; and from 1970 as Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
In 1951, Buffett discovered that Graham was on the board of GEICO insurance. Taking a train to Washington, D.C. on a Saturday, he knocked on the door of GEICO's headquarters until a janitor admitted him. There he met Lorimer Davidson, GEICO's Vice President, and the two discussed the insurance business for hours. Davidson would eventually become Buffett's lifelong friend and a lasting influence, and would later recall that he found Buffett to be an "extraordinary man" after only fifteen minutes. Buffett wanted to work on Wall Street but both his father and Ben Graham urged him not to. He offered to work for Graham for free, but Graham refused.
In 1957, Buffett operated three partnerships. He purchased a five-bedroom stucco house in Omaha, where he still lives, for $31,500.
In 1959, the company grew to six partnerships and Buffett met future partner Charlie Munger.
In 1961, Buffett revealed that 35% of the partnership's assets were invested in the Sanborn Map Company. He explained that Sanborn stock sold for only $45 per share in 1958, but the company's investment portfolio was worth $65 per share.
In 1949, Buffett was infatuated with a young woman whose boyfriend had a ukulele. In an attempt to compete, he bought one of the diminutive instruments and has been playing it ever since. Though the attempt was unsuccessful, his music interest was a key part of his becoming a part of Susan Thompson's life and led to their marriage. Buffett often plays the instrument at stockholder meetings and other opportunities. His love of the instrument led to the commissioning of two custom Dairy Queen ukuleles by Dave Talsma, one of which was auctioned for charity.
Buffett married Susan Buffett (born Thompson) in 1952. They had three children, Susie, Howard and Peter. The couple began living separately in 1977, although they remained married until Susan Buffett's death in July 2004. Their daughter, Susie, lives in Omaha, is a national board member of Girls, Inc., and does charitable work through the Susan A. Buffett Foundation.
In 2006, on his 76th birthday, Buffett married his longtime companion, Astrid Menks, who was then 60 years old—she had lived with him since his wife's departure to San Francisco in 1977. Susan had arranged for the two to meet before she left Omaha to pursue her singing career. All three were close and Christmas cards to friends were signed "Warren, Susie and Astrid". Susan briefly discussed this relationship in an interview on the Charlie Rose Show shortly before her death, in a rare glimpse into Buffett's personal life.
In 2021, Forbes estimated his fortune at $96000 million.