Financier Finn Caspersen found dead

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WESTERLY, Rhode Island - WESTERLY, Rhode Island (AP) — Finn M.W. Caspersen, a former chief executive of the financial services firm Beneficial Corp., has been found dead after what Rhode Island police say is an apparent suicide.

Police say they found the body of the 67-year-old Caspersen on the grounds of the Shelter Harbor Golf Club after being asked to check on him Monday afternoon by a concerned family member. The club's Web site lists him as one of the founders.

Police Capt. Edward St. Clair said Wednesday that Caspersen died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. St. Clair declined to comment on a possible motive.

Caspersen, a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, was a philanthropist and fundraiser who had served as chairman and chief executive of Beneficial Corp. from 1976 to 1998. The company was later sold and is now part of HSBC.

He was a major benefactor to hospitals and universities, including Harvard, and Republican politicians. He was also former chairman of the U.S. Equestrian Team.

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Caspersen was a close political ally of former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean Sr., who won races for governor in 1981 and 1985 with Caspersen's help.

"Among other things, he (Caspersen) was the most generous man I knew. In his lifetime, I wouldn't be surprised if he gave away $100 million," Kean said.

His philanthropy was felt deeply in New Jersey. He gave $5 million to Drew University while Kean was president, and gave generously to Peddie School, a private boarding school in Hightstown. Caspersen led a record-setting fundraising drive for Harvard Law School and a room at the library there bears his name.

Caspersen was also chairman of Save Ellis Island, a nonprofit organization formed to help restore crumbling buildings that once housed sick immigrants on the New Jersey side of Ellis Island.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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