Gerald Tsai Jr.

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TSAI--Gerald, Jr., 79, resident of Manhattan and Rye, NY, died peacefully July 9, 2008. Beloved father of Christopher and Veronica. Caring grandfather of Vanessa O'Brien. Jerry was an enormously talented and successful businessman, serving as a Chairman, President and Chief Executive officer of several large publicly traded companies. He was known as a highly gifted analytical problem solver and a skilled negotiator. His understanding of the capital markets was unparalleled, recognizing opportunities where others saw confusion. Jerry was born in Shanghai, China, on March 10, 1929, and attended St. John's Middle School and St. John's University. He came to the United States in 1947 and, after one semester at Wesleyan University, transferred to Boston University, where he earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the College of Liberal Arts and a Master of Arts in Economics from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1949. In addition, Jerry attended courses at the School of Management. Jerry began his distinguished investment career in 1951 as a security analyst at Bache & Company. A year later, he joined the Boston firm of Fidelity Management and Research Company, Inc., as a security analyst. After only six years, at the age of 29, he started the Fidelity Capital Fund, Fidelity's first public growth fund. He has been credited as one of the main initiators of the modern performance fund idea. At Fidelity he rapidly rose through the corporate ranks, ascending to Assistant Vice President of Fidelity Fund, Inc., to Vice President, to director and Executive Vice President of the company in 1963. In 1965, Jerry established the Tsai Management & Research Corporation and Manhattan Fund, which proved to be a huge success. The initial offering was planned for $25 million but the public's response was so enthusiastic that the fund was greatly oversubscribed and $247 million in shares were sold. He joined CNA Financial Corp in 1967 as President and served until 1973. Jerry was also Chairman of Associated Madison Companies, lnc., the cornerstone of Primerica's financial services business, He joined Primerica Corporation, then American Can Company, as Executive Vice President of financial services and as a member of the company's Board of Directors in 1982, when the company acquired Associated Madison in its first move into the financial services industry. He rose to Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, becoming the first ChineseAmerican to lead a company in the Dow Jones Industrials Index. He became the principal strategist in building Primerica's financial services businesses, which included the purchase of Smith Barney in 1987. Jerry was a devoted son, and regularly sought out his mother's advice before making a major business decision. For instance, Ruth encouraged him to join Primerica, despite his reservations, and then backed his idea of acquiring Smith Barney. He often said that her faith in him have gave him the confidence to succeed. From 1993 to 1997, he served as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Delta Life Corporation, a life insurance; and annuity company. Jerry also served on the boards of several companies, including United Rentals, lnc., Sequa Corp., Zenith National Insurance Corp., Triarc Companies, Inc. Apollo Investment Corp., and Saks Inc. In addition to his business successes Jerry was a highly distinguished member of the community serving on a variety of philanthropic boards including the Boston University Board of Trustees and the Norton Museum of Art Board of Trustees. He also served as a trustee of the New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine Foundation Board. He was a member of the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jerry has been honored for his philanthropic and humanitarian work, receiving a Doctor of Humane Letters from Boston University in 2003. He received the Man of the Year Award from the Chinatown Planning Council of New York and the Boston University Alumni Award for Distinguished Public Service to the Profession in 1985. Jerry was an Associate Founder of Boston University, and served on the Board of Trustees for many years. He was a trustee emeritus at the time of his death. Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 12, 5pm, at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel 1076 Madison Ave., New York, NY.
Published in The New York Times from July 11 to July 12, 2008
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