Philanthropist John Templeton dies

July 8, 2008 at 3:05 PM

NASSAU, Bahamas, July 8 (UPI) -- John Templeton, a small-town boy from Tennessee who became a billionaire, a philanthropist and a British knight, died Tuesday at age 95.

A spokesman for the Templeton Foundation said that Templeton died of pneumonia at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, the Bahamas, where he had lived for many years.

Templeton was born in Winchester, Tenn., and became the first person from the town to go to college, graduated from Yale and went on to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. His interest in religion was sparked by the 1925 "monkey trial" in Tennessee of a teacher charged with teaching evolution.

Templeton's investment empire was founded on a $10,000 loan that he used to make investments in 104 cheap stocks in 1939. One hundred in the group made money.

. In 1954, he founded the Templeton Growth Fund, which became the flagship of a family of mutual funds.

Templeton established the Templeton Prize in 1972, which aims to be the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in religion. The Templeton Foundation, established in 1987, provides funding for religious research.

Twice married and twice widowed, Templeton is survived by two sons, a stepdaughter, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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