Mr. Bogle passes

Jack Bogle

Jack Bogle died last week on January 16th. It was a shock to me.

It shouldn’t have been, I suppose. He was 89 after all. Not to mention he had his first heart attack at age 31 and a heart transplant in 1996.

But still, somehow we don’t expect greatness to pass before our very eyes. At least I don’t.

Articles appeared instantly upon his death. No surprise there. Some, no doubt, had already been written in preparation for the day that had to come. But my heart just wasn’t in it at the time. I needed some time to recover and reflect. To decide if I wanted to write this post at all.

I did put up a tweet for my followers. It reads:

Jack Bogle died today. Great man. Great life. He was a fiscal saint and a personal hero. I was deeply honored to have received a personal email from him acknowledging my work.

In that tweet I linked to this post:

Mr. Bogle and Me

This is the post in which I tell the story of how he came to read my book and the email he sent me acknowledging my work. I also reproduced the note I sent him in return.

Reading it again, at this sad time, it occurred to me it really says what I have to say about the man. I’m glad I had the chance to say it to him directly as well.

Here you go…

Dear Mr. Bogle…

It is hard to express what an honor it is to receive your email. You have long been my personal hero, and I am not a fellow given to having personal heroes.

In my writings and conversations I am prone to referring to you as a “fiscal saint,” a fitting term I don’t use lightly.

You have paved the way for people to achieve financial security and wealth, creating a prosperity then able to fund all the non-profit efforts that improve the overall lot of humanity.

As you may know, I write to what has come to be known as the Financial Independence (FI) movement. These are people who have put the accumulation of wealth building assets ahead of the purchase of fancy things. In effect, they are buying their freedom. Freedom to live life to the fullest and in a manner of their own choosing.

Vanguard and the broad based index funds you have created are key tools in this endeavor.

You truly have created an economic revolution and, personally, I can’t imagine anyone more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

One of my readers once boldly compared my contributions to yours. In my reply I said, “If I have lighted a candle in the darkness, Jack Bogle has been a white hot sun. I only discuss what he has created.”

You richly deserve the years you have been blessed with, and I wish you many more to see the fruits of your labor continue to unfold.

Thank you, and…

Warm Personal Regards,


Sadly, while nominated, he never did receive that Presidential Medal of Freedom. Hit that link for my take on why he should have.

The world is a far better place for his having been here. It is a far sadder place now that he is gone.


Vanguard has done a nice…

history and tribute to Mr. Bogle


I just happened to read these two books together. Turns out they fit well together.

As it says on the cover:
How Nature is Thriving in an Age of Extinction

Complex life has been on planet Earth for ~572 million years. There have been five mass extinctions in that time. This book explores what happened in each.

And takes a look at the idea we are in the middle of a sixth.


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Important Resources

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  1. Hamster says

    What a great tribute Jim! We’ll all be missing an amazing man…

    Between your book “The Simple Path to Wealth” and Jack’s book “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing”, I’ve learned so so much.

    Since I started my journey to FI, these two books have been my guiding “road maps” every step of the way. I can’t thank the two of you enough…

    All the best,

  2. Robert says

    I agree with the others, Mr. Collins.

    Well said, and thanks for the post. I had previously read your letter to Mr. Bogle, but enjoyed reading it again after watching the lunar eclipse tonight. Certainly moments such as these it is good to pause and reflect on what it means to stay the course.


  3. K says

    That was a beautiful tribute and thank you for sharing.

    Sometimes the most deserving are not recognised as you mention. Which is better, the awards or the difference made to individuals lives?

    Your writing is just as honourable, you have given many the key to freedom, for that I am personally grateful.

  4. Alvaro Sarria says

    I’m currently reading your book, The Simple Path to Wealth, and learned about Mr. Bogle and how much you admire his work. When I learned about his passing (the 1st time I went to Vanguard’s website to create my account), I immediately thought how sad you must’ve been to find out. I’m sorry for the loss of your hero.

    Thank you for writing this wonderful book, thank you for showing me how doable this has become. I’m picturing my FI future to be as bright as a “white hot sun” all thanks to you and of course Mr. Bogle (and my father-in-law who gifted me your book for my birthday a few weeks ago).


  5. vorlic says

    It’s thanks to you, Mr Collins, that many of us here first heard of Mr Bogle. Through you, we feel we knew him.

    The overriding impression I had of him was one of humility and an incisive, indefatigable optimism.

    I have learned how passive/frugal investing is a statement of faith in the nature of mankind, and this helps me keep on the straight and narrow, while enjoying the view.

    Thank you, Jack.

    “Eat your food as if you would die tomorrow, and plant your crops as if you would live forever.”

  6. Frank says

    Yes, Mr. Bogle is my personal hero also. His efforts have helped retirees live their lives with dignity and maybe abundance. No one has done more to change the finance industry more and for the better.

  7. Debbie says

    That is by far the best tribute I’ve read for Mr. Bogle. I was saddened to learn of his passing but also surprised at my surprise due to his age. You put to words what so many of us feel.

  8. Carl says

    What an awesome, well-lived life. When people like this pass, the quote that comes into my mind is this one from Dr. Suess:

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

    I’m smiling because the world is a better place because of him.

  9. Susan @ FI Ideas says

    I had no idea that Mr. Jack Bogle had a heart transplant in 1996. I have heard him interviewed many times and the subject always focused on investing rather than his personal story. Often great people are like that. I do believe he is very much the essence if the award for a medal of freedom, but those types of awards are really small compared to his greatness. It’s very cool that he emailed you and I’m sure you treasure that letter.

  10. Paul says

    Thanks for sharing Jim. Bogle was the voice of reason in the insane world of investing (few remain). He will be missed. Charismatic, insightful, witty, and an overall wonderful person to listen to. May Vanguard continue to honor his legacy for the generations to come.

  11. CMWoods says

    Mr. Bogle’s legacy is the laying of the very foundations upon which FI has been able to build their community. While he may no longer physically be with us, as others have rightfully said, he lives on in heart, mind, and spirit through the work of you and the many other pioneers (Mr. MM, The MF, The 1500’s, and many more) in the FI movement and everyone who has chosen to join the community.

  12. Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto says

    “If I have lighted a candle in the darkness, Jack Bogle has been a white hot sun…”

    I can only imagine the feeling he must have had when he read your well crafted line. You have walked with legends, and you’re becoming a bit of one yourself. Rightly so. Carry on with the light. Jack would be proud.

  13. John says

    The venerable Mr Bogle was the real ‘disrupter’ much before the term became fashionable.

    While the vested interests were pilfering the public shamelessly, this modest man opted for a principled approach.

    That my dear friends is the real greatness in a time of greed and inequality

    RIP Mr Bogle….. you will be sorely missed

  14. Rex says

    It wasn’t until his passing that I learned just how great and extraordinary a man Mr. Bogle was. I had heard of him years ago and subscribe to his mantra on keeping costs low through inexpensive index investing ever since, but I never read through some of his life story until just a few days ago. I’m currently listening to the audiobook “Enough” written by him, and its incredible just how wise he was.

    Thank you for writing this about him. I can only imagine how you felt when you received that message from him so unexpectedly. Keep up the great work, Mr. Collins!


  15. Wendy says

    I am grateful to Mr. Bogle in that he has allowed me to retire early and with much more confidence that I will never have to go back to work. Having just read his book on common sense investing, I wish I had been less “smart” and invested with Vanguard back in the 1970’s, but I had to learn on my own, and was too convinced that one had to “beat the market” in order to succeed. Unfortunately, with his passing, he will not be mourned in the active investing world, and despite the massive growth in Vanguard and Indexing in general, there is always going to be that siren song of commission-based salesmen telling you that you can easily beat the averages by “investing” with them. Nobody wants to be average, especially in the Lake Wobegone world of active investing.

    Thanks to you Jim for carrying the torch now that Jack is gone, since without you and others, the benefits of indexing may get smothered in the din of the Wall Street hype machine. Emotions and Expenses, according to Jack, are the only two things you can control, and Wall Street desperately wants to be in charge of them instead.

    As you know, fees on active management takes about 1/3 of your money over a many decade career of saving, but by the time most people realize this, it is too late to recoup the losses. Similar to a traveler realizing that a pickpocket has taken his wallet, no amount of anger and accusation will make up for the loss, and ultimately the blame lies with the individual who’s money was taken.

    Thanks you all you do, Jim. Even though the sun of Jack has been extinguished, your still provide a candle to light the way for the next generation.

    I worry when I talk to friends about investing, and realize that there is so little effort put into common sense approaches. I often refer them to Jlcollinsnh, but as with horses, leading to them to water, will not make them drink. But, if I am able to get one in ten to adopt your teachings, I will have made progress.

  16. Nate says

    I was sorry to hear of jack’s passing.

    I’m so appreciative of you to bringing the hard work jack did to the public. It’s changed my life. Investing is so simple. Thank you to jack and thank to you Jim.

  17. Justin says

    Mr Collins since Mr Bogle gave us the treasure map for investing what arw your thoughts on this article that within the next decade volatility will be the new norm and buy an hold investing will be dangerous and active management will be what is needed?

    I know from your book over the yearsmany alarms like this have sounded and as you stated the market always goes up. Just wanted your thought since the political climate has gotten so volatile an the market seems to adjust by what happens with this volatility?


  18. Jon says

    Thank you Jim. I could not have said better, not by a wide margin… It’s eerie how similar my thoughts unwritten, match your lovely letter. My heart sank in a fashion similar to hearing the passing of Carl Sagan, knowing I will never see the likes of these two for whatever time I have left.

    One awoke an early teenagers curious mind to the wonders and ways of the universe; Mr. Bogle some years later to the reality, beauty, and simplicity of self investment. I retired at 46, and without him/his philosophy, know this would not have been the case. He truly was one of a kind in the investing world, and every investor regardless of how they invest, owes him a tip of the hat. I think what I most admired about Mr. Bogle, was his absolutely genuine sense of humility… He could have been a billionaire many times over via a conventional investment company structure, yet CHOSE to better other peoples lives in nothing short of altruism.

    Thanks Jim for your contributions in the spirit of his legacy, and what you do for us with your own sound advice from a place of good humored humility, clarity and competence. There are very few people in life I even like, far fewer I respect, and almost none I admire… I admire you both. Take care, and know we appreciate all you do, to help us navigate our ways through the course of life.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thank you, Jon…

      …for your very kind comment.

      I agree losing Carl Sagan was another tough one. In that space, Neil deGrasse Tyson has stepped up and does an excellent and very engaging job.

  19. SimpleHouseWife says

    Thank you Mr. Bogle for living a life with honor and choosing to fight for the little investors like us. Without your unselfish work, we don’t stand chance against wolves in the investing world. Rest in Peace!

    Mr. Collins, thank you for carrying the torch!

  20. Mr Fundamental says

    I agree that Jack Bogle was a true hero, and had a beautiful mind for investing. His advice and guidance on investing in the stock market is among the most rational I have seen. In particular, I’ve enjoyed (and believe in) his take that buying a broadly diversified US index fund/ETF might be all that you need. Since there are so many multi-national corporations now, it calls into question the need for specific international diversification. Instead, you can just buy the lowest cost US index fund. Just buy VTI and you’re good! Thanks in part to Jack’s wisdom, I’ll be investing in VTI for many years to come.


  21. Nico says

    Mr. Collins,

    On days like today, with VTSAX at an all time high ($79.92), would you recommend selling and waiting for a pull back to re-buy? It seems absolutely inevitable that at some point in the near future it will pull back from its current level.

    Thank you

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