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Marlborough School Student Newspaper
The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

In memory of Charles Munger

Courtesy of Marlborough Archives

Generous, humble and driven to succeed, Charles “Charlie” Thomas Munger played a quiet but pivotal role in advancing the culture of excellence at Marlborough. 

Munger was best known for being the long-time business partner of Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who is often regarded as one of the most successful investors in history. While Munger’s passing at the age of 99 on Nov. 28, 2023 drew widespread public attention in the business world, at Marlborough, his behind-the-scenes work will stand as his enduring legacy.

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Munger served in the Army Air Corps during World War II before earning his juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School with magna cum laude honors in 1948. After he and his first wife divorced, Munger married Nancy Barry Borthwick in 1956, with whom he raised eight children. Borthwick, a 1941 Marlborough graduate, was a lifelong supporter of the school and remained active in its development until her passing in 2010. She forged a remarkable legacy in her own right; having served as Alumnae Council President, Board President and Trustee, she was awarded Woman of the Year by Marlborough in 1982.

Munger’s daughter-in-law, Maribeth Borthwick ’69, who also served as a trustee from 1983 to 1993, spoke of the effect Nancy Borthwick’s commitment to Marlborough had on Munger.

“[Munger] loved Nancy deeply, and the School was a passion of hers,” Maribeth Borthwick said. “She had been the board president and was hugely involved in the School. He gave in her honor. [Munger] felt that the School would always have a prominent place in the city and be a draw for a girl and her family who valued single sex education. He thought it should continue to strive for excellence and offer the kind of education that prepares a graduate for higher education and life.”

Moreover, Maribeth Borthwick highlighted Munger’s unwavering loyalty to Marlborough’s creed of “aim high” by encouraging school officials to think more ambitiously regarding campus expansion. 

“[Munger] always thought big and it was no different with Marlborough … [he] met with the then head of school, the architect and others involved in planning the [School’s] future physical layout,” Maribeth Borthwick said. “At the end of the meeting, he announced that their plans were not nearly as ambitious and aspirational as they needed to be. He advised them to build bigger, dig deeper and keep going. It turned out he was right.”

The Munger family’s most recognizable contribution, Munger Hall, was established in 2009 and houses Marlborough’s Academic Resource Center, Seaver Art Gallery and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). The family also established the Alfred C. Munger Foundation Fund in 1993 and donated the bronze bust of Benjamin Franklin, which has been on display in the CEI since 1994.

Marlborough Trustee Peter Shoemaker, who served with Munger on the Board from x to y,praised his unmatched tenacity and incredible memory, noting his regular attendance at Costco board meetings. 

“Munger used to say one of the most important things in life was showing up,” Shoemaker said. “He was on the Costco board and never missed a single meeting, and he didn’t limit his commitments to only the communities he was a part of.” 

In a statement released by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shortly after his passing, Buffett eulogized Munger. 

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Buffet said.

In addition to his contributions to Marlborough, Munger left an enduring mark on many other educational institutions he supported, including Harvard-Westlake School, Stanford University and the University of Michigan. On March 11, Harvard-Westlake arranged a service to commemorate Munger for his transformative contributions to their school. 

He ultimately “tried to be useful,” as Munger consistently repeated to Borthwick throughout his long and illustrious life.

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