Chuck McQuaid: 1971 graduate of Ware High School and successful businessman
While attending St. Mary’s Grade School and Ware High School, Chuck earned money through various means, including delivering newspapers and working part time and summers at Ware Shoe. Though deeply respecting the honest hard work done by people in factories, Chuck subscribed to the adage then repeated in the media “if you want a good job, get a good education”.
Ware High School was quite competitive in the late 60s and early 70s, Chuck believes. “I worked fairly hard but couldn’t get my act together on topics that did not interest me. I didn’t see the point in learning Charles Dickens, mythology, and French. Although, I guess if I had learned more mythology I could have won the silver rather than the bronze in cruise ship trivia 40 years later”. Chuck thinks he placed about number 14 in a class of 92 students.
Being a skinny, uncoordinated kid, Chuck was not cut out for contact sports, but did run cross-country under Coach Mike Lincoln. “The nice part about cross-country is that you couldn’t hurt your team, as only the fastest runners’ times counted,” Chuck recalls. “I was at the margin between the fastest runners and the also-rans, and once in a while my time helped the team”.
Accepted at the University of Massachusetts, Chuck’s aversion to foreign languages forced him to choose between business and engineering majors. Chuck chose business, which he thought would be easier. Business, and particularly investing, resonated with Chuck, who got his BBA in three years. “It seemed like UMass underestimated Ware High School and me, as they predicted I would earn about a 2.5 GPA when in fact I did about a 3.9”, Chuck said.
As an MBA is typically needed to become a securities analyst, Chuck applied to the four best programs in the country; only The University of Chicago admitted him. “My recommendation is to go to the school that lets you in”, he says, and he did so. At Chicago, he took Professor Lorie’s investment class because he thought that Professor (and future Nobel Prize winner) Fama’s class would be too hard. That was fortuitous, as Lorie introduced Chuck to Acorn Fund’s founder, Ralph Wanger, in Chicago.
Chuck and Ralph worked together on what is now known as the Columbia Acorn Funds for 25 years through 2003, when Chuck succeeded Ralph as President. The Funds did well and grew substantially. The investment advisor was sold, and is now owned by Ameriprise Financial. Chuck semi-retired in 2014. As of 2015, Chuck is doing some securities analysis and co-managing Columbia Thermostat Fund, a fund-of-funds. He is on the board of two non-profit organizations and supports numerous causes, including the Charles P McQuaid Scholarship for a Ware-area student attending Isenberg School of Management at UMass.
Chuck attributes his success to lots of hard work, common sense, and a little luck. He thinks that especially the science and math classes he took at Ware High School helped him through his college days and professional career. He remains a runner, scoring well in the 60+ age group. He thanks his WHS French teacher, Miss Knox, for helping him recognize his poor aptitude for languages, which in turn set him on his successful path.