WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — William Polk Carey, an entrepreneur who founded a New York-based investment management firm bearing his name and donated millions of dollars to business schools** at universities in Maryland and Arizona, has died at 81, his firm said Monday.
The board of that firm, W.P. Carey & Co., issued a statement that the Baltimore native and corporate finance pioneer died Monday at a West Palm Beach, Fla., hospital, surrounded by family and friends.
Carey gave $30 million in April to the University of Maryland law school, reports noted. He also made a $50 million bequest in 2006 to Johns Hopkins University to found the Carey School of Business at that Maryland university. And in 2003, the business leader and philanthropist also gave $50 million to Arizona State University in 2003 to found its W.P. Carey School of Business.
At the time of his death, Carey was chairman of W.P. Carey & Co., which manages a global investment portfolio totaling about $11.8 billion, according to the company statement. It added that associates mourned the death of "the cultural leader of our company."
Carey was a leader in the field of corporate finance for nearly 60 years, the statement said, noting he found innovative ways to provide needed capital to hundreds of companies through the firm he founded. It said he specifically led the way in developing a sale-leaseback investment strategy for commercial real estate that has kept his company in the forefront of leaders in that industry.
Carey went on in 1988 to establish the W.P. Carey Foundation to support educational causes and donated generously in later years.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the $30 million given to the University of Maryland's school of law was the largest gift in that school's history. It also said other Baltimore schools, among other educational causes, were recipients of his generosity, including the Baltimore School for the Arts.
"Bill was not only an insightful businessman, but a wonderful brother and a good citizen," his brother, Francis Carey, said in a statement published by that paper. "He always felt grateful that he was raised in a family committed to public service, and he worked passionately to uphold that tradition."
Arizona State University also issued a statement mourning the death of Carey, saying one of the nation's most prominent real estate investors and the major donor behind its school of business was a "visionary" who helped propel its business school to prominence.
"Through his general investment in ASU almost a decade ago, the school that bears his name has become world-class and will continue to educate future business leaders for many generations to come," said the statement posted on the university's web site. It said that was the second-largest gift ever to a U.S. business school at that time.
** Correction (Jan. 6, 2012, 2:40 p.m.): This Associated Press story on Entrepreneur William Polk Carey erroneously reported that his donations to Arizona State University helped found the business school. The university renamed its business school for Carey.