- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (AP) - Ernest Stempel, a former vice chairman of American International Group Inc. and a self-made billionaire, has died, his attorney said Tuesday. He was 92.

Stempel, who lived in Bermuda, died Monday after suffering a heart attack in Cape Town, South Africa, while visiting with his wife’s family, said New York-based attorney Henry Christensen.

A native New Yorker, Stempel had a personal fortune estimated at $1.3 billion as of last year, according to Fortune magazine.

Stempel joined the organization that would become AIG in 1938, working as a clerk while attending Fordham Law School at night.

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he was sent to Bermuda in 1953 and oversaw the American International Reinsurance Co.’s rapid growth in the British Atlantic territory.

A vice chairman of the company starting in 1968, Stempel also developed operations in the Philippines.

Fordham Law School gave Stempel an alumni achievement award in 2007, noting his role in promoting life insurance in Asia and establishing Bermuda’s prominent place in the insurance industry.

Stempel is survived by his wife, Brendalyn Stempel, and three children from a previous marriage. His first wife, Phyllis, died in 1993.

Arrangements were pending for a funeral in Bermuda and a memorial service in New York.

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