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Posted 04/07/2023 in Historical

The Amazingly Famous Person From Winchester TN You've Never Heard Of

The Amazingly Famous Person From Winchester TN You've Never Heard Of

Winchester, Tennessee, a picturesque city nestled in the heart of Franklin County and on the shores of Tims Ford Lake, is home to a fascinating yet lesser-known figure whose impact has been felt worldwide. Sir John Templeton, born in Winchester in 1912, was a groundbreaking investor and philanthropist who revolutionized the world of finance and left an enduring philanthropic legacy. 

In this article, we will explore the life and contributions of Sir John Templeton, whose story remains relatively unknown despite his remarkable achievements, including his controversial pursuit of the science of religion.

Early Life and Upbringing in Winchester TN

John Marks Templeton was born on November 29, 1912, in Winchester, Tennessee, to Harvey Maxwell Templeton and Vella Handly Marks. His father was a successful lawyer and businessman, while his mother was a homemaker. The Templeton family lived in a modest house in Winchester. Although not wealthy, the Templetons provided a stable and nurturing environment for John and his two siblings.

Harvey Templeton Nashville Banner 1941Harvey Templeton Nashville Banner 1941

Growing up, John was an inquisitive and hardworking child. He was heavily involved in his local church, which helped shape his lifelong interest in spirituality and religion. He attended school in Winchester TN, where he excelled academically. This earned him entrance into Yale university.

A local legacy of Harvey Templeton (John's father) is the local Harvey's Garden which is a beautiful and picturesque 34 acre park in Winchester TN.  

As documented by the Winchester TN website"  Harvey's Garden is located approximately 4 blocks from downtown Winchester and was envisioned by the late Harvey Templeton.  The vision of the gardens took life in 2003 under the careful eye of Harvey's son and daughter-in-law, Handly and Becky Templeton. The gardens are open every day and are free to the public. The gardens are a work in progress with many more additions, both in floral plantings and acreage to come."

Harvey's Garden in Winchester TNHarvey's Garden in Winchester TN

John Templeton's Education and Early Career

Templeton wasn't born to wealth. Though his parents were comfortable in the 1920s, by 1930 they had been hurt by the Great Depression, and his higher education was in jeopardy.

"At the beginning of sophomore year [1931] my father told me with regret that he could not contribute even one dollar to my education. At first this seemed like a tragedy, but now, looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened," Templeton told his great-niece in the book Investing the Templeton Way.

Chattanooga Daily Times Oct 16, 1933Chattanooga Daily Times Oct 16, 1933

At Yale, Templeton studied economics and graduated in 1934 near the top of his class. While attending Yale University, John Templeton worked multiple jobs and played poker games to help finance his education. He applied his intelligence and strategic thinking to win consistently, generating additional income to cover his expenses during his time at college. 

This aspect of his college life showcases his resourcefulness and determination in the pursuit of his education, which eventually led to his success in the world of finance and philanthropy.

John Templeton attended Yale UniversityJohn Templeton attended Yale University

He then continued his education at Balliol College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Master's degree in law in 1936. Upon completing his education, Templeton began his career on Wall Street, working for Fenner & Beane, which later became Merrill Lynch.

Oxford University in EnglandOxford University in England

Founding of the Templeton Growth Fund

After a few years on Wall Street at an investment company that was the precursor to Merrill Lynch, Templeton decided to venture out on his own, starting an investment firm in 1954. His firm eventually evolved into the Templeton Growth Fund, one of the first mutual funds to focus on investing in a globally diversified portfolio. This innovative approach allowed the fund to capitalize on opportunities in various countries and industries, leading to significant gains for its investors.

Templeton's contrarian investment philosophy was instrumental in his success. He believed in buying stocks during times of economic uncertainty or when they were undervalued. This approach set him apart from many other investors and led to substantial gains for his clients. Over the years, he became a pioneer of value investing and was often considered one of the greatest global investors of the 20th century.

John Templeton's Philanthropy and the Templeton Prize

In 1972, Templeton established the Templeton Prize to recognize exceptional contributions to spiritual and religious life, sciences, and philosophy. The award has since become one of the most prestigious and high-valued prizes in these fields. 

Tennessean 1978 - Templeton PrizeTennessean  May 7, 1978 - Templeton Prize

Templeton PrizeTempleton Prize

In addition to the Templeton Prize, his philanthropic efforts include the founding of the Templeton Library at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. 

At the age of 92, in 2004, he gave away $550 million, becoming the third-largest financial donor of 2004 after Microsoft's Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffet's wife, Susan.  These new funds helped propel the John Templeton Foundation into the top 100 American foundations, with assets approaching $1 billion.

The Templeton Library

In addition to the Templeton Prize, Sir John Templeton's philanthropic efforts include the founding of the Templeton Library at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Opened in 1998, the library was established through a generous donation by Templeton to support the scholarly pursuits of students, faculty, and visiting scholars.  Though no longer a library, the building houses several apartments now.

The library focused primarily on religion, philosophy, and the natural sciences, reflecting Templeton's interests and the fields in which the Templeton Prize is awarded. 

Though no longer a library, the building houses several apartments now.

John Templeton LibraryJohn Templeton Library

John Templeton's Knighthood and Legacy

John Templeton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his philanthropic efforts, and he continued to be active in both investing and philanthropy until his death in 2008. Today, the Templeton Foundation continues to support research and initiatives in spirituality, science, and human progress, ensuring that Sir John Templeton's vision and legacy live on.

To learn more about John Templeton, there is a 45 minute movie called "Contrarian" -- you can view this for free on Youtube.  I've also embedded it here.


Despite not being a household name, Sir John Templeton's life and achievements have left an indelible mark on the world of finance and philanthropy. His innovative approach to investing and commitment to advancing knowledge in spirituality, religion, and science have made him a truly exceptional figure. Winchester, Tennessee, can take pride in being the hometown of this extraordinary individual.

By shedding light on Templeton's achievements and his connection to Winchester, we hope to introduce readers to a lesser-known yet highly influential figure from their hometown. His story is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and a commitment to making a difference in the world. Even though he may not be as widely known as some other famous figures, Sir John Templeton's impact will continue to be felt for generations to come.

Learn about other historical aspects of the Tims Ford Lake Area

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