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Rating:A Midwestern Mutual Fund Entrepreneur Dies at 85 Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Midwestern Mutual Fund Entrepreneur Dies at 85

News summary by MFWire's editors

A Midwestern mutual fund entrepreneur who was also one of the longest-serving portfolio managers in the country died earlier this month.

Albert Nicholas
Nicholas Company
Former Co-Portfolio Manager
Albert Owen "Ab" Nicholas passed away on August 4 at the age of 85, Nicholas Company [profile] confirms in a filing with the SEC. Nicholas' son, president and chief investment officer David O. Nicholas, age 55, now also serves as CEO of the Milwaukee-based mutual fund shop.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an obituary notice and reported on Ab Nicholas' death.

After working with Northwest Insurance Company and M&I Bank, Ab Nicholas founded Nicholas Company in 1967 and launched his flagship mutual fund, the Nicholas Fund, in 1969. From the beginning, that fund has had only a $500 minimum investment. That 47-year-old, four-star mutual fund now has $3.2 billion in AUM. As of Nicholas Company's most recent form ADV (filed on January 27, 2016), the award-winning firm had $6.1 billion in AUM, with the vast majority of that in its mutual funds. Nicholas Company has a long-term, fundamental, growth-oriented approach to investing.

Ab Nicholas served as a co-PM on the Nicholas Fund and the $535.1-million, five-star Nicholas Equity Income Fund up until his death this month. David Nicholas continues to PM the Nicholas Fund, while Michael Shelton continues to PM the Nicholas Equity Income Fund.

Family and staff at Nicholas Company issued a statement on Ab Nicholas' death, remembering him for "his great insight, wisdom, and optimism for business and the stock markets."

"For him, it was all about the shareholder," David Nicholas tells the Journal Sentinel.

"Ab was a giant," Ted Kellner, executive chairman of Fiduciary Management Inc. and alumnus of Nicholas Company, tells the paper.

Ab Nicholas was born in Rockford, Illinois on January 24, 1931. He earned both his bachelor's degree and his MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he served in ROTC. He was also, as noted by the Journal Sentinel, "a standout basketball player" and shooting guard for UWM's Badgers. Yet he went into the Army after college and then came back for grad school, in the process passing up opportunities to play with the NBA's Syracuse Nationals and Milwaukee Hawks.

The late entrepreneur also contributed millions of dollars to a host of non-profits, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, the Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation, the Nicholas Center for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, and the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens. In 2008 he donated $10 million to create the Samaritan Foundation for Church and Family Wellness. In 2015 Ab Nicholas and his wife, Nancy, contributed $50 million to UWM, and in 2013 they created a $50-million endowment and foundation to give scholarships to send high school basketball players to the University of Wisconsin.

"His love was giving back to Madison and giving back to young people," David Nicholas tells the Journal Sentinel.

"Ab's legacy will be part of this campus for decades to come," UWM chancellor Rebecca Blank tells the paper.

Ab Nicholas is survived by Nancy, his wife of 64 years, as well as three children and seven grandchildren. Funeral services were held on August 12 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Milwaukee. The family is directing donations to the Nicholas Family Foundation. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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