Philanthropist, investor John Templeton dies

/ Source: The Associated Press

John Templeton, an investor and mutual fund pioneer who dedicated much of his fortune to promoting religion and reconciling it with science, has died. He was 95.

Templeton died Tuesday from pneumonia at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas, said his spokesman Donald Lehr.

Templeton created the $1.4 million Templeton Prize — billed as the world's richest annual prize — to honor advancement in knowledge of spiritual matters. Winners have included Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Templeton was born in Tennessee and later moved to Nassau and became a naturalized British citizen.

He launched his Wall Street career in 1937 and was considered a pioneer in foreign investment, choosing companies and nations that were foundering or at points of what he called "maximum pessimism," Lehr said.

He also founded Templeton Funds, which he sold in 1992 to the Franklin Group for $440 million. Templeton, a member of the Presbyterian Church and a board member of the Princeton Theological Seminary, often started his mutual fund's annual meetings with a prayer.

In 1987, he established the John Templeton Foundation to fund projects that could reconcile religion and science. The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit has an estimated endowment of $1.5 billion and awards some $70 million in annual grants.

Templeton was knighted in 1987 for his philanthropic accomplishments.

He is survived by two sons, a stepdaughter, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.