John  Templeton's Memorial

John Templeton
(1912 - 2008)


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General Details

Name: Sir John Templeton
Gender: Male
Age: 95 years old
Lived: Friday, 29 November 1912 - Tuesday, 8 July 2008

My Story

An investor in money and faith

He first built a mutual fund powerhouse, then funded a prize to study the interweaving of science and spirituality.

John Marks Templeton, 95, an investor and philanthropist of deep faith and inexhaustible intellectual curiosity, died yesterday at his home in Nassau, Bahamas.

A pioneer in mutual funds, Sir John, as he was known to acquaintances, founded what became Templeton Mutual Funds in the 1950s and grew it into one of the world's great investment houses. In 1999, Money magazine called him "arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century."

Beyond Wall Street, however, he may be best remembered for creating the John Templeton Prize, awarded by a West Conshohocken-based foundation, that recognizes advancements in the study of science and spirituality with a cash prize that last year exceeded $1.6 million.

"He was a delightfully eclectic thinker," said Billy Grassie, founder of the Bryn Mawr-based Metanexus Institute, funded by Mr. Templeton.

"Any traditional religious person would have called him a heretic," Grassie said, and many "orthodox" scientists were wary of his religiosity. "But he was a contrarian who never followed the crowd. That's how he made his money. He was always outside the box, promoting ideas he hoped would make us all a little uncomfortable and little more curious."

A devout Presbyterian, Mr. Templeton was disappointed that the Nobel Prizes did not recognize achievement in religion. So he created his own prize, with the instruction that the monetary award should always be slightly larger than the Nobel's.

The first recipient was Mother Teresa, in 1973. Other recipients have included the Rev. Billy Graham and Watergate figure Chuck Colson.

In 1987, he created the John Templeton Foundation, now based in West Conshohocken, "to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for scientific discovery on what scientists and philosophers call the 'Big Questions.' "

The foundation has assets of about $1.5 billion. The first office for the foundation was in the Lower Merion garage of his son John, also known as Jack. The foundation awards the Templeton Prize and distributes about $70 million annually for research in philosophy, theology, the natural sciences, solutions to poverty, and other fields.

In 1998, the foundation underwrote creation of the Metanexus Institute, an international think tank dedicated to "exploring the dynamic interface between cosmos, nature and culture."

He died a British knight and lived much of his life in the Commonwealth nation of the Bahamas, but Mr. Templeton never lost the soft Southern accent he acquired growing up in Winchester, Tenn., where his father, a lawyer, owned a cotton mill.

He developed an interest in investing while an undergraduate at Yale University, where he graduated first in his class in 1934, and became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he obtained a law degree. Before returning to the United States, he and a friend circled the globe by rail and tramp steamers. During that time, he said, he discovered that "it's a big world, with a lot of opportunities outside the United States."

He began his career on Wall Street in 1937 and quickly made a name for himself by astutely identifying companies and industries stressed to the point of what he called "maximum pessimism" - but ready to rebound.

In 1940, he acquired a small investment counseling firm, and in 1954 established the Templeton Growth Fund. He incorporated it in Canada to reduce investors' tax liabilities and specialized in companies outside the United States.

As he grew wealthier, he became impatient with income and capital-gains taxes in the United States, and in 1963 relinquished his U.S. citizenship to become a British citizen and live in the Bahamas, then still a British colony.

In 1984, Mr. Templeton endowed the creation of Templeton College, a business school, at Oxford. In 1987, the year he created his foundation, Queen Elizabeth II made him a knight bachelor in recognition of his philanthropy. He also served as chairman of the board of Princeton Theological Seminary.

In 1999, he sold his various funds to the Franklin Group for $440 million.

The John Templeton Foundation is now run by Jack Templeton, a former professor of pediatric surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He and other officers of the foundation were not available for comment yesterday.

Grassie said he believed Mr. Templeton's contributions would be long-lasting.

"Think of all the things you could do with a great fortune," he said. "You could build a palace, a performing-arts center, a wing on a hospital. But he asked himself, 'What's the most effective investment I can make for the future of humanity?' I think his decision - to invest in progress in religion - was profound."

In addition to his son John, Mr. Templeton is survived by another son, Christopher; a stepdaughter, Wendy Brooks; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.


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"The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy"
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A legendary mutual-fund manager who was a pioneer of international investing and later committed much of his fortune ...


Children's Names: John, Jr. and Christopher Templeton, and Wendy Brooks
Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: Bahamas
City of Residence: Lyford Cay
Occupation: Banking & Finance Services
Marital Status: Widowed
Religion: Other Christian


Favourite Charity: John Templeton Foundation


Place of Passing: Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas
Date of Passing: 8 July 2008
Cause of Passing: Pneumonia
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