The Omaha, Nebraska, native headed up the giant Kivit manufacturing firm and invested in poorly starred Level 3 fiber-optic networks.
Like his more famous friend, Warren Buffett, Walter Scott Jr. spent most of his life in his native Omaha, Neb., and made billions mostly from a diverse range of nonprofit businesses.
He also devoted himself to philanthropy and focused much of his attention on his hometown, including major donations to the University of Nebraska Omaha and the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
In Nebraska, “our problem is we can’t move a mountain here or an ocean here,” Mr. Scott told the New York Times in 1998. “We’re stuck on the prairie. So we have to make the most of what we have.”
Mr. Scott, who died on September 25 at the age of 90, served as chief executive of Kyvit Corp., now a manufacturer of highways, tunnels and other projects, from 1979 to 1998. He diversified the company with investments in telecommunications. and energy.
Mr Scott was later president of Level 3 Communications Inc., a Kvit spinoff that built fiber-optic networks to carry Internet traffic. Level 3 was a hot stock in the late 1990s, but then faltered amid a glut of long-distance fiber transmission capacity.
He was a long time director of Shree. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and associated itself with the renowned Omaha investor to move more deeply into energy utilities. Berkshire Hathaway and Mr Scott helped lead the 1999 acquisition of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. – a supplier of electricity and natural gas based in Des Moines, Iowa – for about $2 billion. That business was later expanded and renamed Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Forbes estimated that Mr Scott had a net worth of $4.2 billion, due to his stake in Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Walter Scott Jr., the grandson of Carpenter, an immigrant from Dundee, Scotland, was born on May 21, 1931, and grew up in Omaha. His father was chief engineer at Peter Kiewit Sons Inc., a construction company founded in 1884.
At the age of 14, Mr. Scott earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He earned money for college with summer jobs on a farm in Oregon and later at Kivit construction sites. At Colorado State University, he initially planned to study range management, but switched to civil engineering after a friend told him it would mean better career opportunities.
He married high school sweetheart Caroline Falk in 1952 and graduated from Colorado State in 1953.
He served for some time in the Air Force, then rejoined Kvyat.
Raising his children, Mr. Scott took his family to 17 job sites over a dozen years. In 1979 he was named chairman and chief executive, succeeding Peter Kvyat, the son of the company’s founder.
In 2010, Mr Scott was among 40 families and individuals Who signed the Giving Pledge?, a campaign organized by Bill and Melinda French Gates and Mr. Buffett to encourage the wealthy to donate the bulk of their wealth to charity.
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Mr Scott had four children with his first wife, Carolyn Falk Scott, who died of cancer in 1983. In 1987, he married Susan Marshall, a former elementary school teacher who was the executive director of the Omaha Zoo Foundation. He died in 2013.
Several donations to the zoo among Scots were funds for the penguin exhibit.
A profile of Mr Scott published by the Horatio Alger Association quoted him as giving this advice to his children: “The greatest thing you can do in life is to be a giver because there are already too many takers in the world.” “
write to James R. Haggerty Eight [email protected]