Published in The Boston Globe on January 10, 2010
John Howard Hobbs: A Pioneer in the investment management industry and a private philanthropist avid in his support of education and civil rights, died January 3 at his home in Charlemont, MA. He was 73.
John co-founded Jennison Associates, one of Wall Street's first independent institutional investment management firms, in 1969 with Spiros "Sig" Segalas, Jennison's current president and chief investment officer, and five other Wall Street investment professionals. At the time, institutional investment portfolios were managed primarily by large bank investment departments, insurance companies, and investment counselors. John and his colleagues built Jennison with the belief that in-house fundamental company research and specialized investment teams would generate superior long-term investment returns.
Jennison, now a subsidiary of Prudential Financial, currently manages more than $90 billion in assets for major institutions, mutual funds, and private individuals. Many of its existing client relationships, were established during John's tenure as chief executive officer. John was instrumental in Jennison's expansion beyond equities into the institutional fixed income market with the 1975 acquisition of Carter, Doyle & Co. He was named Jennison's president and chief executive officer in 1976 and became chairman in 1994. In 1996, he took on added responsibilities as the president of institutional asset management for the global money management group of Prudential.
In 2000, John took the helm of Prudential's entire equity asset management business, which includes the active quantitative management firm Quantitative Management Associates (QMA). John served as Jennison's vice chairman from late 2002 until his retirement in 2003. "John was the definition of magnanimous," Mr. Segalas said. "His work ethic was second to none as he was often found working at the office over the weekends. His humor was infectious, his laughter ever present and his eyes always had a twinkle. He will be deeply missed by his many friends at Jennison.
Most recently, John was the vice chairman and chairman of the audit committee of the Madison Asset Management Group. Madison specializes in global infrastructure investments. The firm is led by two former chief executive officers and three senior managing directors from some of Wall Street's most prestigious firms as well as two former cabinet level officials including the 13th United States Secretary of Transportation. John was born in Boston, MA. His parents Howard and Anne (Williams) Hobbs both worked at Simplex Wire and Cable Company, in Cambridge, MA.
He lived in Somerville, MA before the family moved to Newton Highlands where he spent most of his childhood and youth. He graduated from Newton High School in 1954 where he was active in debate, student government, and played the viola in the school orchestra. With his sisters, Eleanor and Margot, who played the violin, he was a member of the Hobbs Trio and played in the local community.
His future leadership ability was foreshadowed, as John was president of many student clubs and student body president. John attended Wesleyan University and earned an A.B. from Harvard College in 1960. He later received an M.B.A. with High Distinction from Harvard Business School in 1965.
He served in the Air Force Reserve. John also spent a year as a teaching assistant at Harvard before joining Waddell & Reed, Inc., where he became vice president and manager of investment research. John, along with his beloved late wife Liz, pursued a lifelong commitment to making things better for others. Education was perhaps one of John's greatest passions. This devotion manifested itself in his support of numerous educational institutions and philanthropic organizations dedicated to this cause, especially the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
In the 1990s, as co-chairs of the Harvard Graduate School of Education capital campaign steering committee, John and Liz helped raise $111 million dollars, the largest sum ever raised by a school of education. Together they endowed the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Chair of Cognition and Education held by Professor Howard Gardner. John and Liz also helped many struggling students cover the cost of their advanced education through the Hobbs Fellowship. For many years, John continued his involvement with the school as a member of the Dean's Advisory Board. John was also an active supporter of Harvard University and the Harvard Business School, serving on the executive committee of the Harvard University committee on university resources and as a member of the board of directors of the associates of the Harvard Business School.
John served as a trustee of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, a trustee for Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy, a trustee and president of the board of the Hewitt School in New York City, a trustee and chairman of the board of Proctor Academy in Andover, NH, and a trustee of The Academy at Charlemont in Charlemont, MA. John's devotion to children's educational and developmental pursuits extended far beyond his support of academia.
He was the chairman of the board and an active supporter of Common Cents, an educational, not-for-profit organization, which specializes in creating and managing service-learning programs for young people. Their most popular and best known program is the Penny Harvest, the largest child philanthropy program in the United States. John was also a director and chairman of the board of the Foundation for Child Development and the William T. Grant Foundation. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources (PAICR), believing strongly in elevating the professional standards of communication in the investment management industry.
John also had a strong affinity for political affairs. His political passions began very early in life. John and former Senator Don Riegle were office mates while attending the Harvard School of Business in the early 1960s while each was serving as assistants to professors. John supported Senator Riegle in his first Congressional campaign in 1966 and continued to support Senator Riegle over the subsequent decades as a valued counselor and trusted friend, including serving as financial chair in several of the former Senator's campaigns. John was an active supporter and contributor to number of other well-known Democratic political leaders as well. In reflecting on his dear friend, Senator Riegle remembers "His encouragement, faith and active help were solid rock under my feet that I could always depend upon. John was a truly selfless man. Everything I observed him doing over the entire span of his life was directed at helping someone else. Liz, John's wife, was similarly a giving person in much the same way. They were extraordinary people. Lori (Senator Reigle's wife) and I feel profoundly blessed to have been in their circle of friends over the years."
John Hobbs, husband of the late Elisabeth Hobbs, is survived by his two daughters, Margaret M. Hobbs and Kate H. Hobbs, and his son George C Hobbs. He is also survived by his two sisters, Eleanor Richardson of Niantic, CT and Margaret Sudbury of Winchester, MA, and many nephews, nieces, cousins and friends who will miss him dearly.
A memorial service was held at the Harvard Club of New York City, 35 West 44th St, New York, NY on Friday, January 15 at 11:00 am immediately followed by a reception from 12:00-1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Harvard Graduate School of Education Hobbs Fellowship, 13 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138; Wesleyan University, c/o University Relations, 318 High St, Middletown, CT, 06459; the Foundation for Child Development, 295 Madison Ave, 40th fl., NY, NY, 10017; and The Academy at Charlemont, 1359 Rtc 2 the Mohawk Trail, Charlemont, MA 01339.