Columbia Funds Founder Dies
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Columbia Funds Founder Dies

Mutual fund founder John Jerry Inskeep Jr. has died. Inskeep and Jim Rippey created Columbia Management Company in 1967 as the first fund firm in Portland. The fund firm was eventually sold to Fleet Financial in 1997 and in March of 2003 Fleet rebranded all of its mutual funds to the Columbia name. The Columbia Funds -- which now include a great many funds not related to the Oregon firm -- is reportedly close to being sold by Bank of America.

Inskeep was 78 years old and died of liver cancer in Santa Barbara, California on Sunday, reports The Oregonian.

At the time of its 1997 sale for $460 million, Columbia Management claimed more than $22 billion in AUM, including $6 billion in mutual fund assets. That is a far cry from the $102,500 Inskeep and Rippey initially invested to seed the firms first no-load mutual fund.

After graduating from Yale in 1953 serving as a first lieutenant in the Navy, Inskeep met Rippey at Merrill Lynch and both later quit the wirehouse to form their own brokerage.

Rippey told the paper that he and Inskeep chose to offer no-load funds because "we didn't think we could get anybody to underwrite a normal fund."

Their initial differentiation tactic was to advertise that the funds were the only "no-load funds with headquarters north of San Francisco and west of Chicago."

The filing for the Columbia Balanced Fund -- the family's initial offering was made on December 7, 1967. Rippey, Inskeep, Hess & McFaul, Inc. organized the fund in November of that year and served as its investment advisor, according to the record.

That filing lists J. Jerry Inskeep, Jr. as president.

The fund family grew greatly from 1975 to 1980, a period when Columbia Growth fund was one of the top performing in the country. During that period it gained 96 percent, compared to the S&P 500's 53 percent.

Remembrances may be made to the scholarship fund at San Juan Island Community Foundation, 640 Mullis St., Friday Harbor, WA 98250. (360)378-1001.

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