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Stock market strategist Steve Leuthold made tens of millions of dollars over 50-plus years.

He donated most of his wealth to the Nature Conservancy, Salvation Army and other causes through a family foundation.

"He told us his goal was to give away his money before he died," said Kurt, one of his four children and an engineer. "He came extremely close to succeeding. We were grateful to be part of that. He didn't owe us anything."

Leuthold died of Alzheimer's disease at 85 earlier this month at his home in Carlsbad, Calif.

Leuthold, an Albert Lea native, entered the investment industry in 1960. He was a market strategist at PiperJaffray and founded Leuthold Group in 1981. He was known for bear-market strategies. His followers also were rewarded for his 1981 bet on the bull market that began in 1982 and ran through the 1990s.

"I am contrarian but not for the sake of being contrary," he once said. "It's good business. When everybody hates something, we buy it. When everybody loves something, we sell it. There is a warm comfort in being part of the herd. But I can live without it."

Doug Ramsey, who succeeded Leuthold in 2011 as chief investment officer after Leuthold sold the firm, recalled Leuthold advising employees they were in a serious business but they shouldn't take themselves too seriously.

"Steve was a terrific market strategist and a great investor," Ramsey said. "In his 25 years as lead manager of the Leuthold Core Fund, it beat the S&P 500 index despite never having more than 70 percent of the fund allocated to stocks at any time. That was spectacular."

Mike Lastavich, an old friend, recalled that Leuthold was one of the first with his "grizzly bear" fund. He also was early on the renewable energy sector that eventually boomed.

"He was a visionary and he would stick with his themes," Lastavich recalled.

Leuthold wrote big checks to nonprofits but personally was frugal.

Lastavich once helped electronics-challenged Leuthold add a cable TV sports channel. When Leuthold learned it would cost $7.95 per month, he bellowed that was excessive. Several weeks later he called Lastavich to thank him. He also had received, as part of the deal, an old-movie channel that made the investment a better value.

Leuthold included humor and potato stories in his firm's monthly "Green Book." He was irreverent, a listener and particularly solicitous of those who did menial work.

Leuthold's second wedding was in the 1980s at the Little Wagon bar in then-dingy east downtown Minneapolis. He played guitar in the house Better than Nothing Dirt Band.

For 30 years, Leuthold spent good-weather months living in an old house on several acres in Maine, growing myriad types of potatoes, hanging with lobstermen and other working-class locals. He returned to a Minneapolis apartment for the bad-weather months.

"What set him apart in my mind is that he lived modestly, including that unheated 1905 house in Maine," said Kurt Leuthold. "He liked funny-looking, old cars. He bought the lowest-cost model Chrysler PT cruiser. He stuck on bullet-hole magnets to make it look like a mobster car. His 1991 Pontiac Sebring was his Maine car for 20-some years. He gave it to the guy who mowed his lawn."

Leuthold is survived by his wife, Jeannette; sons Michael, Kurt and Russell Leuthold; daughter Linda Donerkiel; grandchildren, step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. April 14 at Christ Episcopal Church in Albert Lea with visitation at 1 p.m. A celebration of life will be at 4 p.m. April 15 at the 1893 at the Historic Grainbelt Office in northeast Minneapolis.