Louie Blumkin, the only son of Nebraska Furniture Mart founder Rose Blumkin, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 93.
Louie served generations of customers at the store for more than 75 years. He was described as a man who developed a keen knack of knowing what his customers wanted early on. He worked with his mother to develop the store.
Louie was born June 27, 1919 and became a champion diver on the Tech High School swim team. He is in the Tech High Hall of Fame for the Class of 1938.
Blumkin served his country during World War II. In 1944, he landed on Omaha Beach with the Third Armored Division under General George S. Patton. While serving in the Army, he received the Good Conduct Medal, The Purple Heart and The European Theatre Medal along with four Bronze Stars.
Blumkin was there for the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, a historic moment that was his most important emotional experience of his life.
Upon returning from the war in 1945, Blumkin ran the Nebraska Furniture Mart. Under his vision, he turned it into the largest home furnishing store in the country.
In 1983, the family sold a majority interest in the business to Berkshire Hathaway, beginning a partnership with Warren Buffett. The business has expanded into Des Moines, Kansas City and eventually in Dallas/Fort Worth in 2015.
Blumkin is given credit for providing vision and mentoring to his sons Ron and Irv, who continue to guide the company. He was also a benefactor of several area organizations, including the Rose Blumkin-Jewish Home, Henry Doorly Zoo, Gene Mahoney State Park and the Ronald McDonald House. Through the Louie and Frances Blumkin Foundation, he financially supported many Jewish and fine arts organizations throughout the country.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years Frances and three sons, Ron Blumkin and his wife Chris, Irv Blumkin and his wife Susie and Steve Blumkin and his wife Cindy. He had eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his two sisters, Cynthia Schneider and Sylvia Cohn. He was preceded in death by his eldest sister Frances Batt.
Memorials for Louie Blumkin can be directed in two ways:
The Rose Theatre
Attn: Omaha Theater Company – Julie Walker
2001 Farnam Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102
University of Nebraska Foundation
Nebraska Neuroscience Alliance
2285 South 67th Street Suite 200
Omaha, Nebraska 68106