John Marks Templeton was an investor and mutual fund pioneer.
He was born in the town of Winchester, Tennessee, and attended Yale University and was selected for membership in the Elihu society. He financed a portion of his tuition by playing poker, a game at which he excelled. He graduated in 1934 near the top of his class. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and earned an M.A. in law.
Templeton married Judith Folk in 1937, and the couple had three children: John Jr., Anne, and Christopher. Judith died in February 1951 in a motorbike accident. He remarried, to Irene Reynolds Butler in 1958; she died in 1993.
He was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church. He served as an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Englewood (NJ). He was a trustee on the board of Princeton Theological Seminary, the largest Presbyterian seminary, for 42 years and served as its chair for 12 years.
Templeton became a billionaire by pioneering the use of globally diversified mutual funds. His Templeton Growth, Ltd. (investment fund), established in 1954, was among the first who invested in Japan in the middle of the 1960s. He is noted for, during the Depression of the 1930’s, buying 100 shares of each NYSE listed company which was then selling for less than $1 a share ($17 today) (104 companies, in 1939), later making many times the money back when USA industry picked up as a result of WWII.
In 2006 he was listed in a 7-way tie for 129th place on the Sunday Times’s “Rich List“. He rejected technical analysis for stock trading, preferring instead to use fundamental analysis. Money magazine in 1999 called him “arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century”.
Templeton renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1964, thus avoiding U.S. over $100 million in income taxes when he sold his international investment fund. He had dual naturalized Bahamian and British citizenship and lived in the Bahamas.