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Friday, January 08, 2016

MainStay Funds' Creator Dies

News summary by MFWire's editors

This week the man who got New York Life into the mutual fund business passed away.

Donald Keith Ross Sr.
New York Life
Former Chairman and CEO
Per his obituary, "after an extended illness" Donald Ross died on Tuesday at his Franklin Lakes, New Jersey home. He was 90 years old. Katherine Chiglinsky and Nancy Moran of Bloomberg reported on the news.

In 1981, when he was 55, Ross took over New York Life as chairman and CEO. He led the company all through the 1980s until retiring in 1990. A spokesman for New York Life confirms that the company's assets more than doubled in that time to $50 billion in 1990, up from $21 billion in 1981.

It was Ross who brought New York Life into the mutual fund business in 1986 with the creation of its MainStay [profile] mutual fund family. Over the last three decades, MainStay has grown into an $88-billion asset manager (as of November 30).

"Don Ross was a contrarian in the best tradition of New York Life," Ted Mathas, New York Life's current chairman and CEO, tells MFWire in an e-mailed statement.

When junk bonds were coming into fashion, some of our competitors were seduced by the fat returns promised by the promoters. Don saw the folly of that. His long experience in investment management told him that those companies were taking out-sized risks and would come to grief. And they did. Don was a steady hand on the tiller at New York Life and we are grateful for the sound judgments he made that kept us focused on the long term best interests of our policyowners. He will be missed as a good friend and a great leader.


Ross was a native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, a Yale and Harvard alumnus, and a U.S. Navy veteran. He started out at New York Life as a trainee and spent his whole career at the insurer.

Ross was an avid golfer, and he was also active with the YMCA, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the New York Chamber of Commerce, and the local Presbyterian church. Bloomberg also notes that Ross' New York Life was a big, early corporate supporter of the fight against AIDs, and he co-chaired the 1987 American Foundation for AIDS Research awards dinner.

Ross is survived by his wife, Mary, whom he met in second grade and married in 1949. He is also survived by a younger brother, three daughters and a son, nine grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 4pm today at the High Mountain Presbyterian Church in Franklin Lakes. In lieu of flowers, the family is directing donations to the Hackensack UMC Foundation Heart Failure Fund. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor


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