OBITUARY

James E. Stowers Jr.

January 10, 1924March 17, 2014

James Evans Stowers, Jr. passed away on March 17, 2014 at his home in Kansas City. He was born on January 10, 1924 in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Dr. James and Laura Stowers Sr. A life-long Missouri resident, Stowers spent his formative years immersed in the Midwestern values and culture that would later serve him well in his various professional and philanthropic pursuits. He attended Kemper Military School in Boonville, Mo. After graduating from the University of Missouri, he joined the Army Air Corps where he became a fighter pilot. Upon his return to civilian life in 1945, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserves and served as a Captain until resigning his commission in 1957. Given his family’s background in medicine, Stowers initially considered a career as a doctor. But, after completing three years of course work, Stowers put his medical career on hold and set his sights on the business world. He had a short stint selling mutual funds for Kansas-based Waddell & Reed and then branched out on his own by founding a term-life insurance firm and a mutual fund broker dealer J.E. Stowers & Company. In 1958, Stowers established the money management firm Twentieth Century (later to become American Century Investments). In reflecting on the origins and success of his company, Stowers once wrote, “It was my belief that if we helped make people successful, they would in turn make us successful.” In the early 1970s, recognizing that computers could help streamline his stock analysis process, Stowers wrote his own proprietary computer program which is an integral part of the investment process that continues to guide a number of the firm’s growth-oriented investment strategies today. In early 1981, Stowers’ photo appeared on the cover of MONEY Magazine, accompanied by a feature story about the success of his funds over the previous five-year period. Just as Stowers was beginning to enjoy the fruits of his many years of hard work, his family was confronted with the first in a series of battles with cancer. Jim was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 1986 and his wife, Virginia, had surgery for breast cancer in 1993. Motivated by their own experience with the disease and a desire to give something back to the community that nurtured American Century Investments into a successful enterprise, Jim and Virginia Stowers founded the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 1994. The Institute seeks more effective means of preventing, treating and curing disease. In describing his reason for starting the Institute, Stowers said, “My wife and I wanted to give back something more valuable than money to the millions of people who made our success possible and we think that through science is the best way we can do it.” He continued his crusade to help others improve their financial positions. He shared his investing insights and tips for financial self-sufficiency in the well-received book: “Yes, You Can...Achieve Financial Independence.” This book, and others by Stowers and co-author Jack Jonathan, inspired the creation of the “Yes, You Can” financial education program, which is designed to help parents and educators influence the behaviors of children and young adults so they can establish a path toward financial independence. Stowers was chosen to be a torch bearer for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, another achievement in the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. Broadcast on the NBC Nightly News, the NBC reporter captured the essence of Stowers best when he described him as a man who’s given a “gold-medal performance in the generosity competition.” Stowers was named Ernst & Young’s 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year in the Financial Services Category. In his acceptance speech for the prestigious award, Stowers said, “With both American Century and the Institute, the goal was never about self-enrichment. Rather, the larger goal has been to improve the lives of others, either by helping them achieve financial independence or by conducting medical research into the causes and potential cures for devastating gene-based diseases.” Stowers was named the Expect Miracles Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2010. In recognition of Stowers’ long-standing personal leadership in cancer advocacy, the Foundation decided that this award would carry his name in perpetuity. Later in 2010, the Stowerses joined other philanthropists in signing the “Giving Pledge.” The brainchild of billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, the pledge called on signatories to give away more than 50 percent of their wealth to charity during their life or at death. Through their generous gifts of cash and stock to the Stowers Institute, they had already given away the majority of their wealth. In 2011, Forbes Magazine named the Stowerses to its list of the “Biggest Givers” – those who have donated at least $1 billion to charities or foundations. Ranked 9th on the list, the Stowerses were praised by Forbes for their generosity with the magazine noting that as a percentage of their total net worth, they had pledged the most. On the occasion of American Century Investments’ 50th anniversary, Stowers marked the company milestone by expressing “When I look ahead, I feel enormous optimism and hope – for the investors we’re helping through American Century Investments – and for the help and hope we want to provide to humanity through medical research and discovery,” said Stowers. “Never have I been so confident that, truly, the best is yet to be.” He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter Pamela. He is survived by his wonderful wife of 60 years, Virginia Glascock Stowers, and their children Kathleen Potter, her husband Jim from Denver and their children Lauren, Ryan (and his wife Kara) and Alex. James Stowers III, his wife Michele and their children Layne and James IV, Linda Stowers and her son Alex. He is also survived by his brother Richard W. Stowers Sr. and his wife Dorothy from Pampa, TX and their three children Susie, Richard Jr and Frank. The family thanks the numerous, invaluable and loving caregivers as well as the dear Dr. Maliszewski his family physician. A private family service and funeral will be held. A Celebration of Life will be held on March 24, 2014 from 10am to 1pm at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, 1000 E. 50th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64110. The story, photos and videos of his life will be made available soon at: JamesEStowersJr.com In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. Arrangements under the direction of Mount Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home, Kansas City, MO.

Services

  • Celebration of Life Monday, March 24, 2014
REMEMBERING

James E. Stowers Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY

receive updates when new memories are posted

RECEIVE UPDATES
Ray Stowers

February 8, 2018

Never had the pleasure to meet this great man. But as president of Stowers Families of America I was aware of some of his accomplishments. I would like to communicate with any of his family. My email is: mobileunitman@yahoo.com.

Daniel Artagaveytia

September 8, 2014

Condolencias desde URUGUAY.

John Downs,LtCol,USA,Ret.

April 9, 2014

The officers and Staff of Echo Company, Kemper Military School extend our most sincere and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of James. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time.

The image provided is an official Kemper Military School photograph of James taken in 1938 and signed by himself as authentication of the image. It shows James in full cadet dress and we hope this brings comfort to you.

Angela Kuhlman

March 31, 2014

It is nearly impossible to fully comprehend the legacy this wonderful man leaves behind. I am humbled and beyond grateful to have met him, and to be working under the guiding principles of business he believed in. His character, values, and leadership will continue to be an inspiration for us all. Future generations will speak of his contributions to our society (both financially and medically) with awe and appreciation. Thank you Mr. Stowers! The Best is Yet to Be!

Marla Svoboda

March 31, 2014

Long before I had the opportunity to personally meet Jim (and Virginia), I was both proud and awed by the magnificent work being done at the Stowers Institute. I often drove out of town guests by the beautiful building on Rockhill so as to share the world renown research happening behind those walls. Jim and Virginia's tireless work and enormous generosity built a legacy that will last...indeed, Jim, the best is yet to come. Thank you for all you have done.

Harold Bradley

March 29, 2014

I was distressed to learn of Mr. Stowers' passing while away on vacation with my family. Saying goodbye to him is very important to me. He was a rare leader who sought to find the best people and reminded us all the time that "the best is yet to be." I was hired at Twentieth Century in 1988, just after the October 1987 stock market crash. During my interview with him, Jim told me that his mother had worked for my grandfather in real estate on Brookside. Jim incredibly valued his roots in Kansas City and his belief that world class organizations could exist here. I was so incredibly fortunate to have private conversations with Jim where I learned of his stubborn and incredible belief that he could build an incredible, world leading research institution on the Plaza. Many experts told him he was wrong. Instead, he traveled the world and restored a dead hospital campus into the amazing facility that the Institute has become. Jim also invested in me personally when I sought his advice on money management. When my bombast created a little troubling publicity, he would laugh and say "Remember, I'm right behind you." I have missed Mr. Stowers since my departure from American Century in 2007 after 20 years. He is a person who created two amazing, successful business in my city. What a well lived life. He certainly left the world better than he found it and I am incredibly rich for his investment in me. Goodbye Mr. Stowers. You were an authentic, good and humble man. I learned so much from you and respected the amazing wisdom and insight you possessed.

Harold Bradley

March 29, 2014

Karen Staehling

March 28, 2014

I am truly blessed to work at one of the best research institutes in the country if not in the world. What makes it really special is Jim and Virginia's generosity and spirit of philanthropy in their hometown of Kansas City. I grew up in Kansas City and I always thought to do world-class science I would have to leave my hometown. Thanks Jim and Virginia for proving me wrong! May god bless you and your family during this time. The world has lost a great man.

Andrew Box

March 27, 2014

I cannot thank the Stowers family enough for Jim and Virginia's selfless work in funding and founding the Stowers Institute. My wife Jessica and I (whom I met here at the Institute) were saddened to hear of Jim's passing and offer our condolences to the family during this difficult time. Undoubtedly, few individuals will make such a meaningful and lasting contribution to the advancement of human health and knowledge as Jim and Virginia have through their work and philanthropy in Kansas City and through the Stowers Institute where I'm fortunate enough to work and pursue meaningful, interesting challenges every day. Thank you Jim, we'll miss you!

Michael Dearing

March 25, 2014

I will always remember what a kind and gracious man he was to all people. A thought that comes to mind. Is having a car horn blow at me in a, would please get out of the way while at a Sam's Club crosswalk. Upon looking at the vehicle I laid eyes on two beautiful people smiling back at me, Mr.& Mrs. Stowers doing Saturday morning shopping. I will continue to praise him forever. You and your family have my deepest sympathy for your loss. May God bless you in this time of need.