John J. Byrne, whose turnaround of auto insurer Geico Corp. led billionaire Warren Buffett to buy the company and call him "the Babe Ruth of insurance," died March 7 at his home in Etna, N.H., according to Robert E. Snyder, a family spokesman. He was 80 and had prostate cancer.
In his letter to Berkshire shareholders reviewing 1980, Buffett credited Byrne's "managerial brilliance" with resuscitating Geico after his arrival in 1976.
"There aren't many Jack Byrnes in the managerial world, or Geicos in the business world," Buffett wrote. "What could be better than buying into a partnership with both of them?"
At the time of the...