The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) grants the John Newton Russell (JNR) Memorial Award each year. NAIFA describes the award as "the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual in the life insurance and financial planning industry, and recognizes a lifetime of professional excellence, service to the industry and a commitment to ethical conduct."
NAIFA (then the National Association of Life Underwriters) first granted several JNR awards in 1947. They represented the years 1942 through 1947, but were delayed because of World War II. The award for 1942 went to Professor Solomon S. Huebner of the University of Pennsylvania; he is often referred to as the "Father of Insurance Education." According to NAIFA's current list of JNR award recipients, the five oldest living recipients (by year of receiving the award) are Jack E. Bobo (1985), William V. Regan II (1990), Alan Press (1991), Robert W. Verhille (1994), and William B. Wallace (1995).
I was deeply honored to receive the JNR award for 2017. I am the fourth educator to receive the award. The first was Professor Huebner. The second was Davis W. Gregg (1961), who was long-time president of The American College. The third was Kenneth Black, Jr. (1999), who was at Georgia State University and was long-time editor of The CLU Journal.
My receipt of the award automatically made me a member of the nominating committee for a few years. In that capacity, I informed NAIFA that I had long been troubled that eligibility for the JNR award is limited to living persons. I wrote a letter asking the NAIFA board of directors to consider the possibility of granting the award occasionally to a deceased person. I attached to the letter descriptions of the accomplishments of two towering figures in the history of the life insurance business: Elizur Wright and Charles Evans Hughes. The complimentary package offered at the end of this post contains my entire mailing to the NAIFA board.
In response, NAIFA said the board considered my suggestion. The spokesperson said the decision was made that the JNR award would remain restricted to those who are living.
I would welcome comments from readers on this matter. However, I suggest that anyone interested in commenting should first read my suggestion in its entirety.
I am offering a complimentary 16-page PDF consisting of my letter to the NAIFA board (2 pages) and my descriptions of the contributions of Wright and Hughes (14 pages). Send an email to email@example.com and ask for the March 2019 package relating to the JNR award.