James F. Rothenberg, chairman of the Los Angeles-based Capital Group...

James F. Rothenberg, chairman of the Los Angeles-based Capital Group Companies, Inc. and a California Institute of Technology trustee, died Tuesday, July 21, 2015. He was 69. Credit: Courtesy Capital Group

James Rothenberg, who oversaw Capital Group Companies' ascent to manager of the world's largest stock mutual fund before it lost that title to an index fund, has died. He was 69.

Rothenberg, Capital Group's chairman, died Tuesday of a heart attack, according to an emailed statement from the Los Angeles-based mutual fund company, which oversees $1.25 trillion. He was also chairman of Harvard Management Co., which invests the university's $36.4 billion endowment.

"His intellect, passion and energy were the source of inspiration to all of us and to our more than 7,600 associates worldwide," Capital Group's management committee said in the statement. "Our hearts go out to his family and to all who were touched by his extraordinary talents."

Rothenberg, who joined Capital Group in 1970, oversaw the firm's growth into a money manager that at its peak owned the world's biggest mutual fund family, American Funds, and the biggest stock mutual fund, the Growth Fund of America. One of the few investment companies not to fall victim to the technology bubble at the start of the century, Capital Group's fortunes turned after performance faltered following the 2008 financial crisis and clients flocked to cheaper index funds.

Rothenberg received his bachelor's degree in English from Harvard in 1968, and went on to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School.

"Jim was one of the best friends Harvard has ever had, and his selfless leadership, gentle wisdom, humane spirit, and boundless generosity in service of Harvard will live on always," Drew Faust, Harvard's president, said in a statement on the school's website.

Rothenberg was active in Los Angeles-area philanthropies and served as chairman of the board of Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. In March, the California Institute of Technology announced that he and his wife, Anne, had donated $15 million to support research and graduate education.

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