Omaha billionaire philanthropist Walter Scott Jr. dies at 90

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Those investments became hugely successful and made Scott a billionaire, because he partly owned the company that employed him. It became the basis for the wealth that would fuel much of his philanthropy.

The Scott connection with the Kiewit company went back to his father, the late Walter Scott. Peter Kiewit hired the elder Scott in 1926 to supervise building the tower on the state Capitol.

As a teenager, Walter Scott Jr. spent his summers working as a water boy on Kiewit projects.

Scott joined Kiewit full-time after earning an engineering degree from Colorado State University, which later became another recipient of his philanthropy. In his early years with Kiewit, Scott went wherever the construction work took him, moving 17 times.

Scott, his first wife, Carolyn, and their first two children once lived over a neighborhood bar. Carolyn Scott died in 1983. Walter Scott married Suzanne Singer in 1987.

Scott became Kiewit’s president in September 1979, when Robert Wilson retired because of health problems. Two months later, Peter Kiewit died, and Scott became chairman and chief executive.

Kiewit had taken over his family’s small Omaha-based construction company and built it into a vastly larger concern, ranking among the largest dozen construction businesses in the nation most years. Under Kiewit’s leadership, the construction concern became a company that relished huge, risky projects.

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