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William Bain Jr., Boston businessman and Mitt Romney mentor, dies at 80


William Bain Jr., the founder of Boston-based global consulting and private equity businesses bearing his name who helped drive the career of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, died Jan. 16 at his home in Naples, Fla. He was 80.

His death was announced in a paid obituary, which did not provide the cause.

After working in the development office at his alma mater, Vanderbilt University, Mr. Bain got his start advising businesses at Boston Consulting Group. He left in 1973 to found Boston-based Bain & Co. with a focus on developing long-term, strategic plans for companies.

In 1984, he founded the private equity firm Bain Capital alongside consulting colleagues including Romney, imbuing the company with an operations focus that’s become its hallmark. The company now oversees about $85 billion across private equity, credit, public equity, venture capital and life-sciences investments. It is in the midst of adding a real estate unit.

Romney succeeded Mr. Bain as chief executive of Bain & Co. in the early 1990s when the firm was struggling and helped restore it to financial health. After stepping down, Mr. Bain cofounded Bain, Willard Cos., a boutique private equity firm.

“It’s hard for me to imagine my life and career without Bill Bain’s mentoring,’ ” Romney, who served as Massachusetts governor from 2003 to 2007, said in a statement to the Boston Globe. “He hired me, taught me and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.”

William Worthington Bain Jr. was born in Johnson City, Tenn., on July 30, 1937. He graduated in 1959 from Vanderbilt. In the college’s development office, he caught the eye of Bruce Henderson, an alumnus and founder of the Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Bain moved to Boston in 1967 to join BCG.

Mr. Bain was a philanthropist and a longtime trustee of several children’s organizations in Massachusetts and Florida, including Children’s Hospital Boston, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston and the Naples Children and Education Foundation.

A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.



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