The CPCU movement in Los Angeles was started by some members of The Insurance Exchange, which later was changed to the insurance Association of Los Angeles. A study group started meeting weekly in the fall of 1943 and spring of 1944. Walter Bennett, an agent and instructor at UCLA extension, was the coordinator. The group included the following: Robert McWilliams, Rees Roston, Charles Jacobs, Gene Groff, John Gurash, Walter Bennett, Van Joy and John Davidson.
The first CPCU exam nationally was in 1943 and completed by six people. In 1944 twelve people passed the exam which included Walter Bennett and Robert McWilliams from Los Angeles who passed all five parts that year. In 1945 twenty-eight people passed the exam. Rees Roston, Charles Jacobs and Gene Groff completed their exams and received their designations that year.
The Pacific CPCU Chapter was formed in 1945 with six members, Walter Bennett, President; Robert McWilliams, Vice President, Rees Roston, Secretary Treasurer, Charles Jacobs, Gene Groff and James R. Dalziel of San Francisco.
Rees Roston reports in 1948 the first All Industry Day had 700 in attendance and it was held in the Biltmore Bowl with Bernard McManus, Chairman. The conferment of designations was made by Dr. Harry J. Loman, Dean of the American Institute of Property and Liability, Inc. Preston Hotchkis, President of Founders Fire and Marine Insurance Co. spoke on “Package Insurance” (forerunner to the Homeowner policy). Those who received their designation were Leigh Neely, Donald Walker, John St. John, John Adair, Alden Sadler, Howard Boyd and Willard Hayden.
Robert McWilliams advises that a national CPCU convention was held on September 4, 1947 in Los Angeles and Santa Monica with 600 attending. The following received designations and most were members of the Pacific Chapter. From the Los Angeles area Harold Zeigler, Bernard McManus, Neil Flammer, S.J. Higgins, W. M. Scott, and B.F. Payne. John Sherman from Salt Lake City, Alfonso Ragland from Dallas, Homer Terry from St. Worth and John McCormick of Philadelphia. James Crafts, President of the Fireman’s Fund was the luncheon speaker on the topic “Property and Casualty Insurance at a Crossroads”. The luncheon price was reported at $3.00.
Robert McWilliams served as leader of a panel discussion group, with a report of this discussion to be included in the first edition of the CPCU bulletin which was authorized to be sent the members.
The first participation of the Pacific Chapter in an Industry event was that the 1948 Insurance Agents convention held at the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego. The program conducted was “Doctor of Insurance”. Rees Roston was the “doctor” and he questioned people from the audience. The “judges” were Robert McWilliam, Charles Jacobs, Bernard McManus and Harvey Drinkwine. The program was scheduled for one hour , but went so well it ran most of the afternoon.
Colorado Chapter Historian shared their 25th anniversary booklet printed in 1975 which indicates that Allen Beck succeeded in forming a study group of sixteen with three of the receiving their designation in 1948 and four more in 1949. The chapter petitioned for approval as the Rocky Mountain Chapter to cover Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Montana. This was approved and the chapter was chartered in 1950.
San Francisco formed the Golden Gate chapter in 1949 with Pacific Chapter member James Dalziel joining and Howard Martin served as their first President. Howard had been the study group leader at Golden Gate College and he also passed all five parts in one year. J. Folger Allen was the second President . Later he moved to Southern California and became a chapter member of the San Gabriel Chapter, an offspring of the Los Angeles Chapter.
In 1950 John Edward Hutton received his designation and from that time on until his retirement in 1967 he was the prime mover in encouraging employees of Farmers Insurance Company to undertake these difficult courses which lead to a professional level competency in insurance. When he retired an award was named after him and is given annually. We noted at least four of our local chapter members have received this award.
The video reports the event s of past presidents Don Walker and Willard A. Hayden. Unfortunately the other surviving presidents from the pre-1966 era were unable to attend the taping. In 1966 the Pacific Chapter was renamed the Los Angeles Chapter.
There have been many of the past presidents (see appendix for complete listing) actively involved in National office, committees as well as other insurance organizations and non insurance ones. Two past National Presidents – Frank Raab, 1971-1972 and Richard Nelson 1973-1974 were active supported and of the chapter and great mentors to those who followed.
During Rie Sharp’s year as president, 1978, there were three sub-chapters formed – San Gabriel Valley with Dan Johnson as President, South Coast with Alan Morris, president; California El Camino with Rob Brown, president. A good number of Los Angeles chapter members joined the sub-chapters as charter members thus reducing the Los Angeles chapter’s membership. Many continue with dual memberships.
Rie Sharp was the first woman president of the chapter and was very active in the national Society. She had a goal of becoming a Society Officer, but that was not to be. Rie passed away in 1983. In 1986 chapter past President Richard Econn requested the annual Insurance Man of the Year Award (was re-named Insurance Person of the Year in 1983) was renamed in Rie’s honor. The Rie sharp Memorial Award is given each year at All Industry Day.
In 1982 a joint project with the Western Insurance Information Service (WIIS) was created. With Chapter President Bill DiSalvo at the helm and Past Chapter and National President, Richard Nelson as project chairman, “The Insurance Picture”, slide and tape program with the purpose of introducing CPCU’s from the community to the teachers and students of high schools to assist them in their study of insurance and to create a liaison for them to the insurance industry and business community. Each student receives a study book entitled “Your Stake in Insurance” and teachers receive an instructor’s guide. The program was adopted with great enthusiasm by both chapter members and school officials.
June 26, 1984 the chapter held the first “Call for Papers” Technical Conference with Marcus Ramsey as Chairman. Many insurance companies, agents and vendors donated for the cash awards. These awards were from $250 to $1,000 for the winning papers. There were 10 winners out of 20 papers submitted. There were special awards give n to chapter members who were not eligible for the cash awards. This was a first and although chapter members were concerned if it would succeed, it did and was a tremendous success. It was a great addition to the chapter’s submission for the National President’s Award which it won in 1984.
Annually the chapter holds an All Industry Day luncheon. Although lost records make it a little difficult to determine if there was an event every year since 1944 the chapter has accepted that there has been one. The 39th edition of All Industry Day, ”CPCU/THE OLYMPICS – SALUTE TO EXCELLENCE” held on October 25. 1983 was judged to be the largest and the “best” ever held. Marjorie Berte was the AID chair and the luncheon speaker was Peter Uberroth, President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. Close to 1,000 attended the luncheon, seminars and conferment. The seminars were provided by the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and South Coast chapters.
The California El Camino chapter was created in November 1984 and was included in future All Industry Days. As it is now the chapters have a standing committee with rotating chairs comprised of members from all 4 chapters. Meetings are held monthly to plan the annual event. Along with seminars and a luncheon speaker each year’s New Designees are honored. In the past the chapter received the actual diplomas to present to those New Designees who had not attended the Society’s Annual Meeting & Seminars. Now the originals are mailed to New Designees and at All Industry Day facsimiles are presented.
In October 1991, President Cheryl Kleban advised that United Pacific-Reliance had developed and produced a series of television programs on various insurance issues. The production cost per program exceeded $50,000 and was called “The Premium Dollar Today”. During their terms several Presidents had worked on this television project. The chapter contracted with the Reliance Group and modified these programs for siring on community access television stations. An introduction and ending were added providing information on the Society of CPCU and offering the Los Angeles Chapter as a reference for additional information or questions. The chapter offered to loan to any chapter the tapes to show or would duplication for a donation of $16.00 to cover the cost of duplication. The chapter also would add introductions and endings to suit their needs.
This was a great public relations effort and also led to another series of tapes with questions and answers on insurance issues presented by several chapter members led by Bill DiSalvo and John Zaitz. Like all programs they get outdated and the original producer moves onto other things. The coordinators of the new Past Presidents video were able to barter with the Beverly Hills Television to utilize their used large size tape cassettes in partial payment for producing the video.
In 2014, the chapter celebrated 68 years and continues to be one of the largest and robust chapters in the country.