Albert O. "Ab" Nicholas, a prominent philanthropist and nationally known Milwaukee money manager, died Thursday. August 4 2016.
Nicholas, who was 85, donated millions to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his alma mater; to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee; to Brightstar Foundation for investment in the state's emerging growth companies; and to many other causes.
He was a standout basketball player in college, but Nicholas chose an investment career over professional basketball. He formed Nicholas Co. in 1967 and built it into a firm that managed more than $5 billion. At his death, he was still co-manager of the firm's flagship Nicholas Fund, one of the longest-running mutual funds in the country.
Over more than three decades, Nicholas built a robust investment record, outperforming the Standard & Poor's 500 by an average of two percentage points a year — a difference that created great wealth for his shareholders, said David Nicholas, Ab's son and president of Nicholas Co.
Last year, he and his wife Nancy donated $50 million to UW-Madison for undergraduate and athletic scholarships and graduate fellowships. Among other gifts from Nicholas were $2 million, also last year, to expand the basketball program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, and $1 million, in 2013, to the Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation, a nonprofit that invests in young tech companies.
Nicholas and his wife also in 2013 created a foundation with a $50 million endowment to provide scholarships for selected high school basketball players to attend University of Wisconsin System schools.
In 2008, Nicholas funded with a $10 million gift The Samaritan Foundation for Church and Family Wellness, which provides programming nationwide to support and empower families.more » « less