John Marks Templeton, financial executive, investor, and philanthropist, was born in Winchester on November 29, 1912, the son of Harvey and Vella Handly Templeton. He graduated from Yale University in 1934 and from Oxford University in 1936, where he studied law as a Rhodes Scholar. After working briefly as an investment counselor at Fenner and Beane in New York, Templeton served from 1937 to 1940 as vice-president of the National Geophysical Company in Dallas, Texas. Selling his investment in this company in 1940, he founded his own initially New York-based investment company, Templeton Dobbrow and Vance (which became the Templeton family of mutual funds), and began his distinguished career as a financial manager and investor. Templeton pioneered the idea of investing globally in stocks of non-American companies, developing in the process, beginning in 1954, the Templeton Growth Fund, which, managing billions of dollars in investments, became the most successful international stock mutual fund. Other funds were added over the years. In the course of his career, Templeton came to be recognized as one of the century’s greatest financial figures and investors and as a major influence on financial markets and the securities industry worldwide. In 1992 the Templeton firm became a subsidiary of Franklin Resources, one of the world’s largest investment management companies, and Templeton retired from active participation.
Templeton’s significant interest in religion, influenced by his religious upbringing, led him to establish the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1972. Regarded as the “Nobel Prize for religion,” the prize seeks to promote creative approaches and progress in the field of religion. For his religious and philanthropic works, Templeton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987.