The cheerful giver

One of Sir John Templeton's many books is titled The Humble Approach . Few phrases could come closer to describing this remarkable man.


Templeton, who died recently at age 95, was many things to many people. To the financial world, he was a legendary pioneer of the global mutual fund, and a shrewd visionary who parlayed commonsense investment into a multibillion-dollar fortune.

In the world of philanthropy, Templeton embodied the biblical "cheerful giver." His Templeton Foundation has endowed legions of scientists and philosophers to launch inquiries into life's biggest, ageless questions. The foundation's mission follows Templeton's longtime intrigue with how science and spirituality intersect.

That was what led him in 1972 to endow the Templeton Prize -- more than $2 million awarded annually to a single person who has best lent his talents toward influencing our world while moving toward a fuller understanding of the divine. Templeton himself called these people "entrepreneurs of the spirit."

But the people who knew Templeton best saw the ever-present glimmer of the young man from a tiny town in Tennessee who worked his way through Yale during the Great Depression, and went on to become one of the world's most influential people.

Queen Elizabeth II knighted Templeton in 1987, But this deeply spiritual man, we have no doubt, is enjoying an immeasurably greater reward now.



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