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Marty Lederhandler/AP

Investor, Philanthropist Sir John Templeton Dies at 95

July 08, 2008 06:03 PM
by Anne Szustek
The Tennessee-born fund manager, who stayed true to his Southern values throughout his storied investment career, left behind foundations studying the interplay of religion and science.

30-Second Summary

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As a young man living in an affordably priced Manhattan walk-up with “mismatched furniture,” as BusinessWeek put it, Templeton borrowed $10,000 to invest in Wall Street stocks trading below $1 per share. On the eve of World War II, this would seem a less than prudent move.

But his fund flourished. It marked the beginning of a career that would see him become the head of “the top-performing growth fund during the second half of the 20th century,” as The Daily Telegraph points out, and give him the financial backing to promote the history and philosophy of science and religion that he held dear.

Following his fortuitous move as a young adult, Templeton sought investment opportunities in emerging markets, and was among the first to buy into post-World War II Japan.

Templeton was born on Nov. 29, 1912, in Winchester, Tenn. The Counterbalance Foundation, an organization whose mission statement is to balance “the seemingly opposing worlds of science and religion,” writes that this is slightly ironic. In 1925, in the nearby town of Dayton, the Scopes Monkey Trial debated teaching evolution vs. creationism. “Templeton and his foundation work on the premise that scientific principles of evolution and the idea of God as Creator are compatible.”

He considered his investment a “ministry”—one that gathered flocks who attended his meetings and read his books. He bestowed the first Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion to Mother Theresa in 1973, an award for spiritual thought he styled as a religious equivalent to a Nobel Prize. He would go on to support those in favor of “traditional” values of education later in his career, sponsoring other awards in his name.

Headline Link: Sir John Templeton

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Biography: Sir John Templeton (1912–2008)

Opinion & Analysis: Templeton’s legacy

Reference: Templeton Foundation; investing guide

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