Rose Blumkin was a retail legend — but she was probably more famous as the entrepreneur who billionaire investor Warren Buffett still likes to refer to as a model for aspiring business managers everywhere to follow.
The Berkshire Hathaway chief recalls the late Blumkin as a "marvelous, marvelous woman." She was born on Dec. 3, 1893, in a Russian village near Minsk and immigrated to America when she was in her 20s.
"She couldn't speak a word of English" when she arrived in Omaha, Buffett told CNBC's Becky Quick this week. But Blumkin took a modest investment "and turned it into the largest home furnishings store" in the country, he added.
Blumkin, known as "Mrs. B.," was in her mid-40s when started Nebraska Furniture Mart in the basement of her husband's shop in downtown Omaha in 1937 with $500.
Over the next four-plus decades, she turned NFM into a juggernaut that drew Buffett's attention. In 1983, he bought Blumkin's store in a $60 million deal that made it part of Berkshire Hathaway.