Warren Buffetts wife killed by stroke
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Susan Buffett, the wife of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and billionaire investor Warren Buffett (news - web sites), died of a stroke while the two were visiting friends in Cody, Wyoming, the company said on Thursday.
Susan Buffett, 72, has been a director of Berkshire since 1991 and owned about $3 billion worth of the company's stock, or 2.2 percent of the company, while her husband owns 31 percent, according to the company's most recent proxy filing.
She also stood to inherit Warren Buffett's fortune upon his death, a sum estimated by Forbes at $42.9 billion.
The company would not say what would happen to her interest in Berkshire. But Warren Buffett has said that if he outlived her, all of their stock would go to a family foundation upon his death.
The Buffetts were married in 1952. In 1977 Susan Buffett moved from their Omaha, Nebraska hometown to San Francisco to pursue her music career. While the two have been separated ever since, they were never divorced and have remained close. They traveled together and she attended Berkshire's annual meeting in Omaha each year.
"I think she was critical to him," said Andrew Kilpatrick, author of a biography on Warren Buffett. "They were incredibly close and you could tell that at the meetings because he would be with her and enjoyed her company... Whatever she was asking about or wanted he dropped whatever he was doing immediately."
Kilpatrick, who is also a Berkshire shareholder, throws a party the weekend of the annual meeting each year and Susan attended a few times. When she couldn't, he said she left a gracious message of regret.
"She was just the most empathetic and charming person you could imagine," he said. "When you met her she was totally open-faced and interested in you.
Susan Buffett was actively involved in charities and causes such as civil rights, abortion rights and population control. Her stake in Berkshire placed her at 153rd on the Forbes list of the world's richest people. Warren is second on the list.
Last year, she was diagnosed with mouth cancer and had to have a tumor removed and undergo radiation treatment. There was no indication whether the fatal stroke she suffered was in any way related.
The Buffetts had three children together: Susie, Peter and Howard. Howard Buffett is on the Berkshire board of directors and runs a photography and publishing company, and Peter is a musician.
None of them are in line to inherit Warren Buffett's fortune, because the billionaire has always believed that the expectation of a large inheritance could spoil them.
Class A shares of Berkshire were up $450, or 0.5 percent, at $87,400 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange (news - web sites) on Thursday. The price is abnormally high because the company has a relatively small number of outstanding shares.
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