William K. Phillips was born April 12, 1936, in Manhattan, Kansas. He had two older brothers, one of whom was killed in WWII. The family moved from the farm to Noel, Missouri, and then Dallas, Oregon before moving to Virginia in 1953. He married his high school sweetheart, Nancy, in August 1957 while both were in college. They will celebrate 65 years this year. They have four children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Bill was commissioned a Second Lieut. (Armor) in 1958 and served on active duty from June to December 1959 and in the reserves from 1958 to 1966. He was honorably discharged as a Captain. Bill was then employed as an underwriter with Life of Virginia in 1958 (his mentors, J.H.B. Peay and Bob Tavenner both served as presidents of IHOU) and named an officer in 1973 and vice president in 1981 in charge of Underwriting and New Business. He was there during the introduction of Universal Life and the introduction to brokerage underwriting. Bill managed offices in Richmond and California and introduced team underwriting.
Bill was appointed to the Life Underwriting Education Committee in 1976, became the Secretary from 1979 – 1981 and Chairman from 1981 to 1986. In 1981 – 1982 he was chairman of the ad hoc committee to review the ALU program. Following the report and recommendations of this committee, the FALU program was expanded and changed with new study material and tests added. Was responsible for the original ALU III study material and subject matter. As a result, the FALU program increased dramatically. Bill supported On The Risk launching by a member of the Education Committee (Hank George). Bill says that working with this committee is the highlight of his career. The committee was originally all males, but Bill began adding females to leadership roles.
In 1985 he was elected Assistant Convention Secretary of the IHOU Board and progressed through the chairs and served as president during 1990 – 91. He received the Emmett Russell, Junior award from IHOU for service to the underwriting profession in 2000.
During the years Bill authored several articles for On The Risk and other publications. He served on the MIB Board from 1992 to 1995 and served briefly as chairman just as a new codebook was being introduced.
In 1986 Bill left Life of Virginia and went to Maccabees Mutual in Southfield, Michigan and was Vice President of New Business and Underwriting. He and his wife used this opportunity to further their education. Nancy completed her EdD at the University of Michigan, and Bill completed an Executive MBA at Michigan State. (At age 53!)
In 1989, Maccabees was in the process of being sold and Bill was looking for a job. Bill had a job offer in downtown Los Angeles or downtown Lynchburg, Virginia. They moved to Virginia with First Colony Life and completed some of their degree work with airplane flights back to Michigan. Bill become VP of New Business and Underwriting Administration and was later promoted to Senior VP. First Colony was a large writer of term policies, and the volume of applications was overwhelming at times. The New Business area was the largest department in the company. In 1994 he moved to head the Policy Service area which included premium accounting and agent’s commissions. In early 1996, while General Electric was attempting to buy both First Colony and Life of Virginia, he received one of those “offers you can’t refuse,” and retired.
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