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John C. Bogle, Founder of Financial Giant Vanguard, Is Dead at 89

His reputation as a tightwad was well earned. At breakfast with a reporter in 1993, at a suburban Philadelphia restaurant near Vanguard’s headquarters, Mr. Bogle figured out that he would beat the $5.95 cost of the buffet by ordering from the menu. If he had an early-morning meeting in New York, he would take the early Amtrak Metroliner shuttle rather than pay for a hotel room in Manhattan.

“John Bogle has changed a basic industry in the optimal direction,” the Nobel laureate Paul A. Samuelson wrote in a foreword to Mr. Bogle’s book “Bogle on Mutual Funds,” published in 1993.

Mr. Bogle readily took swipes at the press for lauding fund managers who temporarily got a hot hand, and for focusing heavily on a fund’s quarterly performance. Even a fund manager’s long-term record is not an accurate predictor of future performance, he said.

It was that combative nature that had led him to start Vanguard in the first place.

After graduating magna cum laude from Princeton in 1951 with an economics degree, Mr. Bogle was hired by Walter L. Morgan, founder of the Wellington Fund, a Philadelphia-based fund management company. Mr. Morgan had read Mr. Bogle’s senior thesis on mutual funds.

While working his way up at Wellington, Mr. Bogle persuaded Mr. Morgan to introduce a new all-equity fund, called the Windsor Fund, to complement Wellington, which invested in both stocks and bonds.

Mr. Bogle was named president of Wellington in 1967, and soon thereafter it merged with the Boston investment company Thorndike, Doran, Paine & Lewis. Several years later, a management dispute with the principals of the new company led Mr. Bogle to depart; he founded Vanguard in 1974 to handle the administrative functions of the mutual funds overseen by Wellington Management.

Two years later, Mr. Bogle founded the Vanguard Index Trust, now known as the Index 500 fund, the first index fund for individual investors. The next year he again broke from industry practice, selling mutual funds directly to investors rather than through brokers, and thus eliminating the sales fees of up to 9 percent that funds typically charged.

“Our challenge at the time was to build, out of the ashes of a major corporate conflict, a new and better way of running a mutual fund complex,” Mr. Bogle said in 1985.

He officially stepped down as chief executive of Vanguard in January 1996 and remained as chairman until the end of 1999. Tim Buckley is the current chief executive.

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