Jan. 17 (UPI) -- John C. "Jack" Bogle, credited with championing the small investor and creating the world's first index mutual fund, died of cancer Wednesday at his Pennsylvania home. He was 89.
Bogle ushered in low-cost, low-fee investing and mutual funds connected to stock market indexes, concepts that were revolutionary when he launched the Vanguard Group in 1974. He became an industry titan with $5 trillion in assets while employing 16,600 by the end of last year.
"Jack could have been a multibillionaire on a par with [Bill] Gates and [Warren] Buffett," investment manager William Bernstein said. "He basically chose to forgo an enormous fortune to do something right for millions of people. I don't know any other story like it in American business history."
Remembering Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, 1929-2019: https://t.co/vO3ZlDlXip- Vanguard (@Vanguard_Group) January 17, 2019
Through Vanguard, Bogle perfected "buy and hold investing" while his index mutual fund allowed investors to gain high returns at a lower cost than actively-managed funds. Vanguard now manages the assets of more than 20 million investors in 170 countries. His 2018 book Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution was one of 13 he wrote on investing. The index pioneer gathered a devoted following who called themselves "Bogleheads."
"If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle," Buffett wrote in his annual letter in 2017. "In his early years, Jack was frequently mocked by the investment management industry.
"Today, however, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me."
Bogle graduated from Princeton and rose through the ranks at the Wellington Fund, becoming chairman in 1970. Bogle said he was fired in 1974 after an "unwise" merger with a Boston counseling firm that he called the biggest mistake of his life. The firing, though, led him to pursue the dream of starting Vanguard.
Bogle suffered several heart attacks over the course of his adult life, starting at age 31, and underwent a heart transplant in 1996.