Richard F. Aster, Jr., president of Aster Investment Management Company, Inc. and portfolio manager of Meridian Fund, Inc., passed away on Thursday, February 16, 2012.

He was 71. His death was labeled as “untimely” and “accidental” by the firm in a Securities and Exchange filing.

According to a statement released by the company, a team of portfolio managers including James England, James O’Connor and William Tao who worked closely with Aster have assumed management responsibilities for the Meridian Equity Income Fund, Meridian Growth Fund and Meridian Value Fund.

"We are deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of our esteemed colleague and friend," stated Meridian Fund vice chairman James Glavin.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal two months ago, Aster said what makes his firm distinguishable from his competitors is that it has no market¬ing or distribution.

Rather, it has “a culture of performance,” he told the Journal.

“I started the Meridian Growth Fund in 1984 and have been responsible for the portfolio since inception, so the record means something. Many funds, particularly with big firms, have had a number of managers on a fund over the years. It’s hard to know what you’re getting,” he said.

Aster left Montgomery Securities in March 1977 to form Aster Investment Management.

He also had stints at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Newburger, Loeb & Company, a New York Stock Exchange firm, as a West Coast aalyst before joining Robertson, Colman, Siebel & Weisel, which later became Montgomery Securities and subsequently Banc of America Securities, Montgomery Division.

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