Private equity LP pioneer Jay Fewel dies

  • Fewel worked at Oregon for 25 years
  • Backed several ‘household name’ firms like TPG and Providence Equity
  • Outside of work, he was an avid outdoorsman

John Bullock “Jay” Fewel, who led private equity for the Oregon state treasury for many years and was considered one of the pioneering limited partners, died on Oct. 13. He was 63.

Fewel spent 25 years at the treasury, starting his career in 1989 and retiring in 2014. Fewel helped grow Oregon’s alternatives program, particularly private equity.

“Many of the firms he backed and counseled as an original LPAC member are now household names in the investment business,” said David Fann, co-founder and CEO of consultant TorreyCove Capital Partners.

Firms he supported in their infancies included TPG and Providence Equity Partners. He also maintained Oregon’s pioneering relationship with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts that began in the early 1980s.

“Jay was a wonderful human being who understood our firm and the private markets,” said George Roberts, co-founder of KKR, in a statement to Buyouts.

“He worked hard at his relationships and treated KKR like a true partner. We are deeply saddened over his death and will miss him.”

“Jay was one of the early investors in private equity when the industry was small,” said David Bonderman, co-founder of TPG, in a statement to Buyouts.

“He had great foresight and positioned Oregon as one of the most successful private equity investors. In addition to that, Jay was a good guy who was fun to be with. We all miss him.”

Several people talked about Fewel’s ability to spot private equity talent in its infancy, a skill that institutional investors pursue today as they try to spot the next PE superstars.

“Jay had an uncommon ability to connect with investors, people and nature,” said Jonathan Nelson, Providence Equity’s founder and CEO.

“His priorities were friends and the great outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. Seemingly without effort he spotted and supported great investors and cherished those relationships.

“There are many of us who would not be where we are today if it were not for Jay’s partnership decades ago when we were starting out. We will miss Jay and send our condolences to his family.”

Fewel’s work paved the way for public pensions across the country to build up private equity portfolios, Roberts said.

“While he was more than his work, he leaves behind a wonderful legacy of helping forging the path for private equity to be able to do its part to support the millions of people relying on their hard-earned public pensions for retirement. There is no doubt the whole U.S. pension system is better off today, thanks to his work and leadership,” Roberts said.

As Nelson said, outside of his work as an LP, Fewel was an avid outdoorsman, according to his obituary. He was the consummate “man’s man” who loved hunting, fishing, clamming and crabbing, the obit said.

He was also an accomplished cook and a collector of butterflies, stamps, matchbook covers, decoys, taxidermy and vintage items.

Fewel also took the time to reach out to others battling addiction, the obituary said. “We take comfort knowing that he spent a relaxing summer immersed in his favorite activities at the coast, relaxing at his vacation home in Gearhart with his wife, friends and family. He was proud to have snagged the biggest crab of his life this summer,” the obit said.

He is survived by his wife, Kerrie; stepchildren Natalie Sept and Christopher Sept; sister Janet Carlson; brother Richard Fewel; and nieces and nephews.

The family suggests memorial contributions to or

Action Item: Read Fewel’s obituary here: