r.i.p. jack bogle

(PRNewsfoto/Vanguard/Shannon Stapleton Reuters) Have seen this photo used in multiple places on the Internet, especially today.

I just learned a little while ago of the death of Vanguard founder John “Jack” Bogle.

I guess you could call me and the rest of the folks who knew him first and other than the founder of Vanguard and founder of index funds as original “Bogleheads“. Bogleheads are in fact really disciples of his investment philosophies and strategies.  They began around 1998 if I recall correctly.  (They have chapters all over and meet in the Philadelphia area annually for a conference.)

Jack Bogle, Mr. Bogle as I always called him was my neighbor my growing up years living  in Haverford.  He was a contemporary of my parents and a Shipley dad.  Mr. Bogle’s wife, Eve, was also a Shipley alumnus, so I would see them mostly at alumni events once we all moved away from the Haverford neighborhood I grew up in.

Mr. Bogle and his wife are two of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet.  When I was growing up they had an English Springer Spaniel and so did we. (Maybe I should be saying “were” instead of “are” but I am still just sort of stunned that Mr. Bogle is gone.)

It’s funny, when you are a kid, you don’t realize someone is a Titan of Commerce and Industry and a pretty big deal.  He was just our super nice neighbor and I think that was the way he liked it.

You can read article after article about Mr. Bogle saying how unpretentious and wonderful he was and think “how is that possible, that someone who had achieved so much was such a regular and caring person?” It is all true.  He was just exactly that way.  Humble, philanthropic, interested in people, loved to walk in our neighborhood. Genuine.

Over the past I would say 25 years literally where I saw Mr. Bogle most was accompanying Mrs. Bogle to events at Shipley.  He was always current even on the most local of politics.  Way back when I was part of the Save Ardmore Coalition and we were fighting Lower Merion Township over eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore, he and Mrs. Bogle did not treat me like I had leprosy when I saw them at a Shipley event at that time, and yes some more stiff upper lip Main Liners and Shipley personnel most assuredly did do that back then.

My first real job was as a registered marketing representative for The Delaware Group of Mutual Funds in Philadelphia when it was still independently owned.  We are talking the 1980’s. I remember back then running into him and Mrs. Bogle somewhere and him asking me why I didn’t apply for a job at Vanguard.  He was very amused when I told him salary and location.

At that time my position which was entry-level was around $13,000 a year at Delaware Group and $11,000 a year for a similar position at Vanguard.  Actually, I would have loved back then to have been at Vanguard, but the money differential and being young and working in a city was just more attractive than suburbia and a suburban business campus.  The irony? The attractiveness of being a city slicker going to happy hour at The Irish Pub eventually wore off.

I apologize, I don’t think I am writing this post very well.  I am just sad.  Mr. Bogle was just so nice. He had eyes that twinkled when he smiled or laughed. He was just of those people I enjoyed speaking to if even for a moment. Always.

When the news flit across my computer screen that he died, I just kind of sat there and said oh wow, oh wow.  It is kind of like another door on growing up closing.  I had a flashback memory of him walking in our neighborhood with his wife Eve (oh, how they adored one and other) – it’s amazing what lives in our subconscious, isn’t it?  I also thought of his children – just as nice as the parents.

Were these people I was super close to? No but they were neighbors and part of the world in which I lived growing up. And wasn’t I lucky, because you truly don’t often meet people as genuine.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a marvelous article about Mr. Bogle today.  This was one of the things that just stood out to me this afternoon:

A man who believed in the value of introspection and who was always questioning his own motives and behavior, Mr. Bogle sought to define what it means to lead a good life. It was not about wealth, power, fame and other conventional notions of success, he concluded.

“It’s about being a good husband, a good father, a good colleague, a good member of the community. Everything else pales by comparison. The accumulation of material goods is a waste — you can’t take them with you, anyway — and the waste is typified by our financial system. The essential message is, stop focusing on self and start thinking about service to others.”

There are so many things popping up everywhere on major media outlets now, and the tributes and accolades will continue to flow. Like I said earlier, growing up for years I had no idea what he did and then how important he was.  He was just Mr. Bogle from down the road.

Mr. Bogle had 8 basic rules for investing (and yes I cheated and pulled them off of his Wikipedia page) and here they are:

  1. Select low-cost funds
  2. Consider carefully the added costs of advice
  3. Do not overrate past fund performance
  4. Use past performance to determine consistency and risk
  5. Beware of stars (as in, star mutual fund managers)
  6. Beware of asset size
  7. Don’t own too many funds
  8. Buy your fund portfolio – and hold it

When people like Mr. Bogle pass away it is also sad because he was a true gentleman too.  When you think Captains or Titans of Industry today you don’t see that very often.  After all just look at who inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at present.  Now there is a guy who could have learned from Jack Bogle.  But I digress. (I do that.)

Before I share the obituary articles on Mr. Bogle I will also say there are two more local articles I like, one from 2017 in Philadelphia Magazine and an article from Main Line Today Magazine in 2012.

Mr. Bogle, may your memory always be a blessing.  Requiescat in pace, sir.

Here is what I have read thus far:

Vanguard Announces The Passing Of Founder John C. Bogle (PR Newswire)

Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle Dead At 89 (Zero Hedge)

Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard Group and creator of the index fund, dies at age 89 (CNBC)

Financial pioneer: John Bogle, who founded Vanguard and revolutionized retirement savings, dies at 89.
by Art Carey and Erin Arvedlund,Philadelphia Inquirer

Vanguard founder Jack Bogle dies at 89; pioneered the index fund Thomas Heath Wasington Post

Jack Bogle, Legendary Index Fund Inventor, Dies at 89 Leslie P Norton, Barron’s

John C. Bogle, Founder of Vanguard Group, Dies at 89
Bogle’s campaign to cut fees put him squarely into a U.S. tradition of iconoclastic discounters  By Jason Zweig and Sarah Krouse Wall Street Journal

John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard and Creator of Index Fund, Dies at 89
Wall Street legend John Bogle championed individual investors, creating tools to help them access American growth. Tom Bemis The Street

John C. Bogle, Founder of Financial Giant Vanguard, Is Dead at 89 by Edward Wyatt  New York Times

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