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Jack Bobo Dies at 96

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Jack Bobo, 96, a longtime life insurance agent and life industry leader, died Jan. 15 in Phoenix, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors announced Thursday.

Bobo may have been best known as an officer at the National Association of Life Underwriters (NALU) — the group now known as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

While representing NALU in Washington, as a committee member, president and long-serving executive vice president, he fended off or softened a wide range of legislative proposals, such as an effort by the Reagan administration to tax the “inside build-up” of value within life insurance policies and deferred annuities, and repeated efforts by Democrats to establish a government-run national health insurance program.

After Bobo retired from his position as executive vice president of NALU, he became a regular columnist for National Underwriter Life & Health, a print publication that came to be owned by ALM, the company that owns ThinkAdvisor. His columns appeared from 1993 through 2010.

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As a columnist, Bobo worked to promote the value of helping consumers “become their own bankers” by putting money into life insurance.

In one column, in 2005, he worried about many homeowners lack of savings and dependence on interest-only mortgage loans, and on financial services companies’ failure to promote saving.

“The irony is that the banks, once the champions of thrift, are, in my judgment, among the worst offenders,” Bobo wrote. “Never a day passes that I do not receive a call from someone offering to refinance our home. I reply that we have no mortgage; then they want to help “release the equity” in our house in order to more fully enjoy life in some way.

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Bobo also worked hard to bolster the reputations of insurance professionals and the products and services they provide, to have NALU adapt to insurance and financial professionals’ changing needs, NAIFA said.

“Bobo was a legendary producer and leader in the life insurance industry who contributed the wealth of his talents and hard work to foster NAIFA’s success over several decades of his service,” NAIFA said.

Early Days

Bobo was born in South Carolina in 1924. He went to grade school at Public School 41 in New York City, and his first significant exposure to financial services was putting nickels and dimes into individual containers, which were then sent to a local bank that deposited the change into individual bank accounts set up for each child.

“In retrospect, I am quite sure, given the smallness of the accounts, that this was not a moneymaker for the bank,” Bobo wrote, in the 2005 article about the importance of thrift. “Rather, it was part of the educational process regarding the importance of thrift. Banks in that era regarded the promotion of thrift as an important part of their mission and what better place to instill this philosophy than young children.”

Bobo later moved to South Carolina. He used some of the earnings from a paper route and a job at an Army post exchange to feed money into a Postal Savings Bonds program. He bought a $2 to $5 bond each week.

He joined the Army Air Corps in June 1941 and served during World War II and was an advanced flight instructor, according to a NALU publication, “Voices From the Field: A History of the National Association of Life Underwriters.’

In 1946, soon after the war ended, Bobo married Gladys Stromsholt, the daughter of immigrants from Denmark, and set up house in Phoenix.

In 1956, Bobo became an insurance agent with New York Life and a member of NALU. Eventually, he became a New York Life general agent.

Over the years, he earned the Chartered Life Underwriter and Fellow of the Life Management Institute professional designations.

Gladys Bobo died in March 2013.

The Bobos’ son, Glen Bobo, became a New York Life agent, according to NAIFA.

NALU Work

Bobo became co-chair of the NALU Committee on Federal Law and Legislation in the 1975-1976 association year. He was elected NALU president for 1977-1978.

In 1979, he succeeded C. Carney Smith as NALU’s executive vice president. He acted as the group’s general manager. He held that role until 1992.

In 1985, NALU gave Bobo the John Newton Russell Memorial Award. The award citation issued by the selection committee stated:

Jack E. Bobo, CLU, FLMI, by any test imaginable you are the consummate professional in life underwriting, who, by word and deed, has set a notable example of technical expertise based on long and intense academic preparation; adherence to the highest ethical standards; and steadfast devotion to your family, community, country and the Institution of Life Insurance.

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