John Templeton Jr, who has died of cancer, was president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation. Though the Foundation is not a religious foundation, it awards grants to many religious individuals and institutions. Focusing on what it calls "Science and the Big Questions" it regularly funds projects that explore connections between science and religion. The leadership of the foundation is expected to remain within the family.
During Templeton's 20 years as president the foundation's endowment grew from $28m to $3.34bn. In 2014 it awarded 188 grants, mostly to leading universities and scholars worldwide. The foundation has awarded $966m in grants and charitable activities since it was created. It awarded $103m in 2013, the last year for which figures are available, ranking it 55th in total giving of US foundations.
Before he led his father's foundation, Templeton was a paediatric surgeon and director of the trauma programme at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. His father, Sir John Templeton, a global investor and philanthropist who created the Templeton Fund in 1954, died in 2008.
An evangelical, Templeton was a member of the Presbyterian Church of America, a theologically conservative Presbyterian denomination. His father, who was part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), took a broad view of spirituality and ethics, influenced by the Unity School of Christianity, a movement that espouses a non-literal view of heaven and hell and a shared divinity between God and humanity.
The foundation awards an annual Templeton Prize, a value of about $1.7m, making it one of the world's largest annual awards given to an individual (it is intended to surpass the monetary value of the Nobel Peace Prize). It honours a living person who has made contributions to life's spiritual dimension. The 2015 prize was recently given to Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, anetwork for people with intellectual disabilities. Some scientists have objected to receiving funding from the Foundation because of some of its past grant recipients.
Templeton was the oldest of three children of Sir John. He trained in paediatric surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from 1973 to 1975 under the hospital's surgeon-in-chief, C Everett Koop, US surgeon general from 198289. During Templeton's time at Children's Hospital, it gained an international reputation for treating conjoined twins, Templeton performing numerous operations.
He served on a range of boards, including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Foreign Policy Research Institute, American Trauma Society and the National Bible Association. The Becket Fund was the organisation behind last year's Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case which could have widespread impact, allowing corporations to claim religious exemptions from federal laws. Major donors to conservative causes and the Republican Party, in 2008 Templeton and his wife donated $1m to the Proposition 8 campaign that barred same-sex marriage in California. He died of complications from cancer.
SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY
John Marks Templeton Jr, surgeon and philanthropist: born New York 19 February 1940; married Josephine (two daughters); died Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 16 May 2015.
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