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Friday, May 12, 2017

Federated Investors Founder Passes Away

Reported by Marisa Santella, Editorial Intern

John (Jack) F. Donahue, of Pittsburgh and Naples, Fla, and co-founder of publicly traded money market mutual fund giant Federated Investors, passed away yesterday at his home in Naples at the age of 92.

Chris (left) and Jack Donahue
Federated Investors
Current CEO and Late Founder (respectively)
Jack Donahue's son, Federated president and CEO Chris Donahue, confirmed his father's death in a statement released today.

"My father was a remarkable business leader and a man of tremendous faith who dedicated his life to building Federated and his community,” Chris Donahue states. "He was also a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who made faith the center of our family. While he will be deeply missed by all who knew him, his entrepreneurial spirit will continue to encourage and inspire us all.”

"Dad inspired you with his actions, his humor and his positive outlook on life," Katherine Freyvogel, Jack Donahue's eldest daughter and Federated's first female external wholesaler, states in the obituary.. "He taught all 13 of his children that all things are possible."

"Dad would not allow the family to use the words 'I can't'," states Tom Donahue, son of Jack Donahue and chief financial officer of Federated. "We had to say 'I think I can'. And we were always supposed to go 'up the mountain.'"

Jack Donahue, a Pittsburgh native, graduated from West Point in 1946 and joined what is now the U.S. Air Force, piloting a B-29 in the Strategic Air Command. His journey in the investment management industry began four years later. After seeing a Forbes magazine offering a closeout sale on a stock market correspondence course for $49, he knew he wanted to begin a career in investment management.

When Jack Donahue left the Air Force in 1950, he started selling mutual funds, but then realized starting his own company better suited his passion. In 1955, he founded Federated Investors with two high school friends — co-founder Richard B. Fisher and the late Thomas J. Donnelly as outside counsel.

“When Jack and I founded Federated as young men, I don’t think either of us could conceive of the success that we would have helping people invest, save for retirement or achieve their financial goals,” states Fisher, co-founder and chairman of Federated Securities, Corp. “Jack and I said we would build a place where we could employ our children, a solid company there for the long haul. And we did. Jack had a profound impact on Federated over the years and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”

Federated launched its first money market mutual fund in 1974, and by the 1990s it was known for private-labeling money funds for banks. Aetna bought out Federated in 1982, but the Donahue bought the company back in 1989. The company IPOed in 1998, the same year Jack Donahue stepped down as CEO and passed the reins to his son Chris while staying on as chairman. In 2016 Jack Donahue passed that final baton to Chris, too, and became chairman emeritus.

As of March 31, 2017, 62 years after its founding, Federated now has $361.7 billion in AUM. Though Federated is publicly traded, all voting shares in the company remain in the hands of the Donahue family.

Jack Donahue was a devout Catholic and an active (and often quiet) philanthropist. His charitable donations and work included support for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University's business school, the Extra Mile Education Foundation, the Golden Apple Awards, Naples Community Hospital, Oakland Catholic High School, and Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School.

Bloomberg, P&I, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette all covered the news of Jack Donahue's death.

Jack Donahue is survived by his wife of 70 years, Rhodora Jacob Donahue, and their 13 children, as well as 84 grandchildren, 109 great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and two sisters. Visitation will be at St. Ann Catholic Church in Naples on May 18 and May 19 and at Freyvogel Funeral Home in Pittsburgh on May 23. The burial mass is scheduled for May 20 at St. Ann Catholic Church in Naples, and a memorial mass is scheduled for May 24 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. The family is directing remembrances to Central Catholic High School and the Little Sisters of the Poor. 

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