And he probably doesn’t remember me, but on the annual meeting weekend in 2000, we road in a car together with JBenvent and someone I don’t remember from the hotel to an event (Borsheim’s? Drinks at the restaurant John Houbolt was telling stories at? Somewhere else WEB was appearing?)
I remember many great encounters with the old AOL group folks. But I was bad at remembering names before that. And it hasn’t gotten any better as I roll through my 9th decade. It had to be in my CPO LS400 at the time. I started driving the 700 miles to Omaha rather than flying because it gave me a lot of options about timing. Easy to get around, could share rides with friends, and my schedule wasn’t set by the airlines. It wasn’t unusual to encounter tornadoes goint to and from - the spring season - so it became one of the factors in staying home and reading meeting transcripts. Some close calls - but that’s another story line. Another factor was when Omaha began charging Mardi Gras in New Orleans prices. Wasn’t delivering much new except for meeting old friends and making new ones.
I still keep in occasional touch with JBenvent. We mostly talk about parenting, exchanging family stories. His son is now attending a great Ivy college last I heard.
I met John Houbolt at one of the private dinners I used to organize to escape the crowds at the “known” Buffett places. Gave us time to mix and visit. I first knew his wife Mary - a remarkable women - when she was very nice to our daughter who accompanied me to the 1998 meeting. It was the Yellow BRK’ers gathering at Todes IIRC.
So she and John came to our dinner and I fortunately set next to him. On the other side was Charlie Page (Pagewrite) who was always a life of the party. He asked John what he did for a living, and John replied calmly “I send men to the moon.” John used to share good stuff on BRK, I still have one of his spreadsheets.
Mary and I became great e-mail friends, and that continued until her recent death. John, Charlie, and Mary are all gone now. I had to abandon organizing our “private” dinner later on, but some friends (BRKFarmer - Lyle was one) filled in for a while. It is now a casualty of the pandemic - and attendance had already fallen off as the BRK meetings became more repetitive and fewer of the old group started attending.
Lyle knew Debbie back then, and now. She passed along a request to him from WEB asking how to improve the meeting. Lyle, being busy, kicked it to me, and I polled a group of the old AOL board members. The suggestions were pretty unanimous - too much time being wasted on too many repetitive questions in the Q&A. Suggested asking for questions ahead of the meetings, have them screened and asked by good media folks, and have more of them and less of the audience Q&A’s. Didn’t see anything for a while, but later saw the meetings improve. I think what our group probably offered - it wasn’t rocket science - was pretty obvious. But we may have added weight to the suggestions.
Someone recently mentioned Robsny - Bob Snyder. I came across a number of his e-mails that I had printed out last week - mostly about float. He was my mentor in that area. Passed way too soon. Remarkable man.
WEB’s early strategy of not splitting the BRK.A shares self selected a remarkable group of people at those earlier meetings. I am fortunate to have gotten to know a number of you guys. Has impacted my life.
No knock intended on the newer BRK shareholders - we’re all partners. It was perhaps just a different mix back then. Easier access to long time shareholders.