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John H. "Jack" Laporte Jr., T. Rowe Price portfolio manager

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John H. "Jack" Laporte Jr., a highly regarded T. Rowe Price portfolio manager who was also a philanthropist and one of the minority owners of the Orioles, died Aug. 12 of complications from lymphoma at his Ruxton home. He was 68.

"Jack was one of the great investors of our era, and you never heard that from him. He never talked about it. He was a modest, cultural pillar of our company and a true gentleman," said Brian C. Rogers, T. Rowe Price's chairman and chief investment officer.

The son of an accountant and a homemaker, John Henry Laporte Jr. was born in West Orange, N.J., and raised in Short Hills, N.J. He was a 1963 graduate of the Pingry School, which was then in Elizabeth, N.J., and earned a bachelor's degree in 1967 from Princeton University, where he was president of his class.

After earning a master's degree in business in 1969 from the Harvard Business School, Mr. Laporte began his career as a securities analyst at Pershing & Co. in New York City, where he worked until joining T. Rowe Price in 1976 as a research analyst.

From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Laporte was director of equity research. In 1984, he began managing portfolios and became manager of the New America Growth Fund at its founding in 1985.

In 1987, he took over management of New Horizons Fund, which Thomas Rowe Price Jr. established in 1960, and became the fund's longest-tenured manager until stepping down in March 2010.

Mr. Laporte's tenure with the fund had a rather ominous beginning. It was only a few weeks before Black Monday, in October 1987, when the market went into a 20 percent freefall in one day. Three months later, New Horizons Fund had lost 26 percent.

"I was happy to have the opportunity to run a fund that really characterized what T. Rowe Price was all about," said Mr. Laporte in a profile that was published in The Exchange, an internal T. Rowe Price website, "but I must admit, I was feeling a little lonely at the time."

Under Mr. Laporte's management, New Horizons realized an annual return of about 10 percent and outperformed the broader market and small-cap indices, observed The Exchange profile.

Because of his successful management of the fund, Morningstar Mutual Funds, the highly respected fund rating service, recognized Mr. Laporte as Manager of the Year in the domestic stock category in 1995.

Mr. Laporte's investment strategy was to buy and hold companies for years and even decades.

"Finding true growth companies is not an easy task. But when we're fortunate enough to find companies that have the potential to grow their earnings at well-above-average rates for five to 10 years or even more, the thing that distinguishes a great growth investor is having the steel will not to trade out of those winning investments too soon," Mr. Laporte said in the interview.

"Let your winners run, and let the compounding of earnings growth work in your favor," he said. "The real way for investors to make money is to find outstanding companies and own them a long time."

"Jack was absolutely clairvoyant when it came to looking at companies and what their future might hold. He was an old-fashioned investor who believed in good management and holding on," said Mr. Rogers.

"I've seen good managements make mediocre businesses very good stocks and bad managements turn good businesses into disasters," said Mr. Laporte in The Exchange interview.

"He was a great role model and he mentored a zillion people here, and our clients loved him," said Mr. Rogers.

After turning over the reins of New Horizons Fund to Henry Ellenbogen, Mr. Laporte continued working as a member of the firm's Equity Steering Committee, where he had served since its inception in 1993.

He also was a director of T. Rowe Price's equity mutual funds board beginning in 1985, and served as a director of T. Rowe Price Group from 1996 to 2004.

He retired in 2012.

Since 1993, he had been a minority owner of the Orioles. He was an avid Orioles and Ravens fan.

"He always gave me the tickets to the Red Sox games because he knew I was from Boston," said Mr. Rogers, "and he kept the Yankees seats because he was a lifelong Yankee fan."

Mr. Rogers said he visited Mr. Laporte at his home a few days before his death.

"He was sitting in bed reading The Sun sports page checking the Orioles box score," he said.

Mr. Laporte had served on the board of PRINCO, the investment company for Princeton University, and had been on the executive committee of the Aspire Campaign, which involved fundraising for Princeton.

"Princeton was the love of his life," said his wife of 41 years, the former Andrea "Andie" Berry.

Mr. Laporte was also active in community affairs and was a founding member in 2008 of the board of The SEED School in Baltimore for underprivileged children. He supported the school financially and later was its board chairman.

He served on the board of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society from 1985 to 1994 and was president from 1989 to 1992.

Mr. Laporte enjoyed visiting a second home in Ketchum, Idaho, where he hiked, skied and golfed.

He was a member of the Maryland Club, Caves Valley Golf Club, Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, L'Hirondelle Club and the Pine Valley Golf Club in Hailey, Idaho.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 28 at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church, North Charles and Saratoga streets.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Laporte is survived by his two sons, Christopher Palmer Laporte of Houston and Timothy Marshall Laporte of Encinitas, Calif.; a sister, Jill Laporte Sklarz of Taos, N.M.; and two grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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