a Lieutenant , JG . Ruane then joined the training program at General Electric but quickly realized that he did not enjoy working as an engineer . He shifted direction and enrolled in Harvard Business School , with tuition paid by the GI Bill .
Harvard Business School ( 1947 – 49 )
The Harvard Business School graduating class of 1949 was renowned for the number of business leaders it produced . In 1999 , Forbes commemorated the 50th anniversary of the class ; in addition to Ruane , it included :
• Jim Burke , who built Johnson & Johnson into a corporate empire with bold new marketing strategies ;
• Tom Murphy , founder of Capital Cities Broadcasting , who took a small , failing TV station in Albany and grew it into ABC / Cap Cities , which was later bought by Disney ;
• Marvin Traub , who developed Bloomingdale ’ s into a nationwide chain of 14 stores : “ We developed the store as a cool place to be , somewhere to cruise on Saturday ;” and
• Peter McCullough , who took a small and struggling company named Haloid and turned it into the legendary Xerox Corporation .
Networking was an important element of their success . After graduation , they hung together . “ Five of us rented an apartment ,” Ruane recalled for Forbes in 1999 , “ a brownstone right off Fifth Avenue , $ 300 a month . Many of the hundred or so ‘ 49ers in New York would come over on Saturday night with their girlfriends .” Over time , many of them married and lifelong friendships ensued .
Bill married Elizabeth ( Libba ) Greiner in 1956 . They had two children , William , Jr . and Elizabeth ( Lili ). Their marriage ended in divorce in 1967 . Two years later , he married Joyce ( Joy ) Merbach . They had two children , Paige and Thomas . The family lived in Manhattan and spent weekends at their farm in rural Connecticut .
Kidder , Peabody & Co . ( 1950 – 69 )
After graduation from Harvard Business School , Ruane joined Kidder , Peabody &
Co ., led by Albert Gordon , a legendary investment banker and fellow Harvard graduate who , after the Crash of 1929 , rebuilt the firm into a powerful investment bank .
In his early days at Kidder , Peabody , Ruane met Rick Cunniff , with whom he would eventually co-found the Ruane , Cunniff & Stires investment firm . He also met Jim Kelly , the author ’ s father , who was Kidder , Peabody ’ s industrial stock trader . They collaborated on a regular basis over 19 years in the execution of trading orders for Ruane ’ s clients , and Kelly praised him as a great guy and a role model worthy of emulation .
In 1951 , Ruane met Buffett when they were both enrolled in Graham ’ s security analysis course at Columbia . In an interview for this article , Buffett remembers that Ruane was originally a proponent of Philip Fisher ’ s growth stock philosophy , but embraced Graham ’ s value ideology when he faced adversity in the stock market . Buffett noted that Ruane worked with Ned Goodnow , another brilliant investor and decorated WWII and Korean War veteran , who founded his own investment fund , Goodnow , Gray & Co . in 1969 .
Ruane and Buffett became lifelong friends . Buffett recalls , “ He was my
Bill Ruane with his daughter , Paige , in 1976 .
buddy .” Ruane ’ s daughter , Lili , recollects that “ he spoke on the phone with Warren Buffett every day .” Paige remembers being a child at home listening to her father ’ s high-spirited laughter on the phone whenever he spoke with him . They also met for combined business / vacation trips at different locations each year , along with other friends who comprised the Buffett Group .
Over his 19 years at Kidder , Peabody , Ruane built up a very successful business advising clients and managing funds on their behalf . In recommending him to manage the Buffett Partnership clients ’ money , Buffett noted , “ I have had considerable opportunity to observe his qualities of character , temperament and intellect … and I consider Bill to be an exceptionally high probability decision on character and a high probability one on investment performance .”
Ruane , Cunniff & Stires
Ruane had been thinking about starting his own firm as his success grew over time . By 1969 , he was ready to act , encouraged by the prospect of attracting many of the Buffett Partnership ’ s members as customers . Cunniff was also enthusiastic about
Courtesy of Paige Ruane www . MoAF . org | Winter 2023 | FINANCIAL HISTORY 23