Sir John Templeton, the philanthropist, legendary investor, and founder of the Templeton family of funds, passed away on July 8, at his home in the Bahamas.
He began his career on Wall Street in 1937 and is legendary for having borrowed $10,000 in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II in Europe and buying 100 shares each of 104 companies, whose stock cost one dollar or less per share, including several in bankruptcy. Several years later realized a huge profit on all but four of those stocks. In 1940 he bought a small investment firm that became Templeton, Dubrow and Vance and fourteen years later launched his first mutual fund, the Templeton Growth Fund, in Canada where there was no capital gains tax at the time.
By 1992 he sold his family of funds, which by then totaled more than $13 billion in assets, and devoted his attention to philanthropy full time. A spiritual man who always began annual meetings with a prayer, he founded the Templeton Prize in 1972, because, among other reasons, there is no Nobel Prize for religion. The prize, which is administered by The Templeton Foundation with a $1.5 billion endowment, is intended to recognize “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.”
Born in Winchester, Tennessee, Templeton gave up his U.S. citizenship in the 1960s, became a British subject and moved to the Bahamas. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 1987 for his philanthropic work. The charities he founded now distribute about $70 million annually.