James "Jim" Stowers, Jr., the founder of American Century Investments and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, died Monday of natural causes according to a joint release from both institutions. He was 90.
Stowers started his investment career in a one-bedroom apartment in Kansas City in 1958. He was armed with $100,000 in seed money from 24 investors and offered two mutual funds for the firm known as Twentieth Century (later called American Century Investments.) In reflecting on the origins of the company, Stowers wrote, "It was my belief that if we helped make people successful, they would in turn make us successful."
According to the release, American Century is now a global asset firm with "assets under management ... (of) approximately $141 billion."
"Jim Stowers was a pioneer in the worlds of investment management and personal philanthropy," said Jonathan S. Thomas, president and CEO of American Century Investments, in the release. "He was an unpretentious man of great vision, an investment innovator with a driving passion for helping investors achieve financial success."
A diagnosis of cancer for both Stowers and his wife, Virginia, led to the founding of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 1994; it opened its doors in 2000.
When asked about the decision to start the Institute, Stowers said, "My wife and I wanted to give back ... and we think through science is the best way we can do it." The couple created a $2 billion endowment; this includes a more than 40 percent equity ownership stake in American Century Investments. The profits fund research into genetically transmitted diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia.
Stowers is survived by his wife, Virginia, and their three adult children and families. Arrangements are pending. Instead of flowers, the family request donations to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.