> Warren Buffett Blog: Warren Buffett praises Carol Loomis of Fortune who is retiring as his oldest newsletter editor

Monday, July 7, 2014

Warren Buffett praises Carol Loomis of Fortune who is retiring as his oldest newsletter editor

In January 1954, a bright-eyed 24-year-old from Cole Camp, Missouri, walked into Fortune magazine's offices at Rockefeller Center in New York. Armed with a college journalism degree and work experience writing for a Maytag company magazine, she took an entry-level job assisting Fortune's male writers.

The young woman, Carol Loomis, navigated the magazine's "Mad Men"-like culture, on one occasion slapping a married colleague whom, she delicately recalled, "had an agenda." She proved herself as a reporter but had to battle gender stereotypes. In 1970, she fought her way into an Economic Club of New York dinner after its director said he did not want "any frivolous little Smith girls looking for a free dinner and the chance to spend an evening with 1,200 men in black tie."

"She has an analytical mind, and she keeps learning," said Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor and a close friend. "We males never do that. We quit at about 15. We just think we know it all. At 85, she is interested in learning more."

On Monday, Fortune will publish her final article before she retires, a piece about one of the world's most powerful financiers, Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock.

Loomis is perhaps best known as Buffett's Boswell. She has been Fortune's resident expert on Buffett since meeting him in 1966, and each year edits the annual shareholder letter of Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway - an unusual role for a financial journalist. The two speak nearly every business day and are frequent bridge partners, playing mostly over the Internet.

She will have more time now for bridge. At her age, she said, it was becoming too difficult to jump on a plane and take extended trips to write the deeply reported, lengthy magazine features that she worked on throughout her career.

"I began to realize that some of the things that a Fortune writer needs to do, just take for granted, become a little bit harder at this age," said Loomis, seated in a Fortune conference room Wednesday. "I didn't want to be a Fortune writer who was constrained in any way."

She was introduced to Buffett by her husband, John, a retired partner at First Manhattan, the New York investment manager.

Now that she is officially retired, Loomis said she hoped to first catch up on the lunches she missed while finishing her article on Fink and BlackRock. She also needs to find a place for the nine boxes of reporter's notes cluttering her garage. And she looks forward to playing more golf and bridge.

Loomis also plans to continue her regular conversations with Buffett and assist him with his writings. After editing the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter for nearly 40 years, she likes to remind Buffett that he still needs her help. She said that dangling participles and the passive voice were persistent problems.