James Rothenberg dies at 69; philanthropist, chairman of Capital Group Cos.


Investment manager and philanthropist James Rothenberg, chairman of mutual fund giant Capital Group Cos. in Los Angeles and of the board overseeing Harvard University’s $36-billion endowment fund, has died at 69.

Rothenberg died July 21 after suffering a heart attack while vacationing on the East Coast with family and friends, Capital Group announced.

The company Rothenberg helped manage is the parent of the third-largest fund family in the U.S., American Funds, which are owned by tens of millions of Americans and are known for buy-and-hold investments in stocks.


Rothenberg helped manage many of the funds, and was a longtime portfolio manager at Growth Fund of America, which was the nation’s biggest open-end stock fund until 2011, when a Vanguard index fund overtook it. With $149 billion in assets under management, it remains the largest actively managed equities fund, according to Morningstar Inc.

When Rothenberg joined Capital in 1970, it had six offices and several billion dollars under management. In a wide range of investment and leadership roles, he helped the company expand globally.

Capital now employs more than 7,000 people and oversees assets of nearly $1.3 trillion. Tim Armour, who heads the company’s management committee, was named this week to replace Rothenberg as Capital’s chairman.

Born in Pittsburgh on July 16, 1946, Rothenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Harvard in 1968 and a Harvard MBA in 1970. Besides heading the board of Harvard Management Corp., which manages the world’s largest endowment, he was treasurer of the university for a decade and a member of the Harvard Corp., its governing board.

“Jim was one of the best friends Harvard has ever had, and his selfless leadership, gentle wisdom, humane spirit, and boundless generosity in service of Harvard will live on,” Harvard President Drew Faust said in a statement.

A longtime Pasadena resident, Rothenberg also was on the boards of Huntington Memorial Hospital, the Rand Corp., Los Angeles public television station KCET and Caltech.

In March, he and his wife of 41 years, Anne, donated $15 million to Caltech to endow graduate student fellowships and support research.

“I think that over time there are two drivers of the U.S. economy other than natural resources: education—an educated labor force, an educated populace—and innovation,” he said.

Survivors include his wife, children Catherine Rothenberg Wei, Erin Rothenberg Baker and Daniel H. Rothenberg, and six grandchildren.