Maine CPCU Society Chapter History
In June 1961 three Maine insurance professionals passed the fifth and final exam in a grueling series, earning the little known designation of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. Lee Allen of Aetna Life and Casualty, Douglas Johnson of Lumber Mutual Insurance Company, and George Frame, Bond Manager for Maine Bonding and Casualty Company joined Arthur Buettner of American Mutual InCo. who was the first person in Maine to earn the CPCU designation.
The early CPCUs followed a much different road than today’s candidates. Instead of standardized course textbooks, candidates were issued a reading list, consisting of 72 different business and insurance text. Lee Allen borrowed many of the texts from the Bangor Public Library, relying on insurance company “special agents” (the precursors to today’s marketing representatives) to check them out with her library card, deliver them to her in Portland, and return them to the library. Allen’s persistence and ingenuity paid off; she was the first woman in New England to earn the CPCU designation, and one of only three women in the world to earn the designation in 1961. Allen tells of the novelty of female CPCUs: at the national conferment ceremony, officials of the Society grouped the three women together for a photograph.
These first four CPCU’s began the process of forming a chapter of what was then known as the Society of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. Since the minimum membership to establish a chapter was five, Allen, Johnson, Frame and Buettner “borrowed” one member from the State of New Hampshire. The Maine Chapter was chartered September 1, 1962.
Helping Hand Up the Ladder
The first CPCUs remembered how difficult it was to obtain the texts and they knew that, very few employers reimbursed candidates for the cost of books or exam fees. This limited the designation to only the most determined students. In the true spirit of CPCU, they sought to help those who followed them. Chet Hanson of Turner Barker and Lee Allen founded the Maine Professional Insurance Society. The purpose of the MPIS was to build a library of the 72 texts used for the CPCU exams. The materials were kept in the Portland offices of General Adjustment Bureau; candidates could check them out as they would any library book.
Unlike today’s CPCU candidates, early students did not have the benefit of organized classes. Instead, the candidates (usually 6 or 7) created a study group, and met to review the material. What the group lacked in seasoned instruction, it more than made up for in camaraderie and commitment to the shared goal of earning the designation.
Early Chapter Activities
Once the chapter was formed, the members began holding regular monthly meetings at the Portlander Hotel on Congress Street (now a dormitory for University of Southern Maine students). There were no invitations sent, no speakers, no topics. Members would simply take a stool at the counter, order breakfast, and talk about the insurance issues of the day. They were, in the most literal sense of the term, “students of the business”.
Each spring, the Chapter would host “Candidate’s Night” at the Centerboard Yacht Club. This doubled as a “post exam celebration” and an information night for those seeking to learn more about the road to CPCU. Usually, there were fewer than 20 people in attendance. It was a pot luck affair with each CPCU bringing a dish. Many fondly remember Doug Johnson and his wife making spaghetti.
In addition to the regular breakfast meetings and the annual Candidates’ Night, the Chapter held some “All Industry Nights”, for a representative of the Society in Malvern, PA would travel to Portland (at their own expense), and chair a meeting. Proceeds from the evening went to the Maine Professional Insurance Society’s library fund. At one MPIS All Industry Night, Governor Reed and the CEOs of six major insurance companies (Hartford, Aetna, Travelers, Commercial Union, Maine Bonding and Casualty and USF&G) attended. The crowd filled the ballroom of Portland’s Eastland Hotel.
Until the mid 1970s all Northern New England CPCU designees received their “local” conferment in Boston at the Sheraton Plaza. By the early 1980s conferment and chapter officers’ installation banquets were held at Portland Country Club, adding an air of elegance of these ceremonies. Chapter member Ted Noyes graciously arranged for the use of this facility. By the early 2010s the local conferment had evolved into a celebration of CPCU. This dinner meeting typically features high member turnout, National Society speakers, well known local speakers, recognition of the scholarship recipients, live musical background as well as the recognition of the newest CPCUs.
From the beginning Maine CPCUs needed to be role models and take personal interest in sponsoring potential candidates. Many who earned their CPCUs in the 1960s and early 1970s can tell the story of how they were encouraged to pursue the designation by one of the early chapter members. Art Buettner, the first Maine CPCU, is remembered as a particularly tireless proponent of the designation. He encouraged potential candidates to begin the new and obscure program, led study groups, coached individuals in their pursuit of the designation, and later, organized and taught the first classes for the fledgling chapter.
Chapter Growth & Development
Chapter growth was slow until the late 1970s, when companies began to reimburse employees for the exam fees and text books. By then, the American Institute was publishing the texts which were limited to one or two books per exam. This made the designation more affordable even for those who purchased the books and exams at their own expense. Gradually the CPCU designation gained stature, becoming a benchmark for promotion within companies and a symbol of excellence in personal growth.
The Chapter purchased its red and gold banner during J.C. Robinson’s term as President in 1976. Members were especially proud of this and it was used at every meeting for many years thereafter. During the early 1980s breakfast meetings were often held at the Office Pub in what was known as the “Arcade Building” on Portland’s Congress Street.
In the mid to late 1980s, Hanover Insurance Company took a leading role in the growth of the Maine Chapter. During the period from 1986 to 1990, 3 of the 4 Chapter presidents were Hanover executives (Rick Sawyer, Rick Cote, Lincoln Merrill, Jr). Hanover employees were strongly encouraged to pursue insurance designations including CPCU. Several of them earned the CPCU designation in those years. Hanover’s involvement was even noted at CPCU Society Headquarters in Malvern, PA. When Bob O’Brien and Howard Candage visited Malvern in August of 1990, Society Executive Vice President Pete Synott asked if Maine was the Chapter “with the Hanover people”.
Breakfast meeting invitations were extended to CPCU candidates in the late 1980s and attendance swelled. Meeting sites gravitated toward Maine Turnpike Exit 8 where larger function rooms were available to handle the increased attendance. Some sites used were Michael’s Restaurant, Holiday Inn and Verillos. Chapter meetings were occasionally held in Augusta in the 1990’s as an attempt to reach out to members outside Greater Portland. However few members attended the meetings.
As the Chapter continued to mature it took on other challenges. “Claims-made” liability coverage was the hot issue in 1986, when Maine Chapter members developed research project on the subject. Common opinion in the industry was that “claims-made” was too difficult for laypersons to understand. Chapter committee members including Bill Robertson, Herb Moulton, Howard Candage, and Pat Chesebro convincingly disproved that by teaching a group of high school Junior Achievement students a one hour class on the subject, followed by an exam. Over 80% of the students scored 100%! The project earned the Maine Chapter a national research award as well as local media coverage and national insurance industry press.
In 1988, Maine Worker’s Compensation system began showing early signs of its eventual near collapse four years later. Ever astute and interested the Maine Chapter Board arranged symposia in South Portland and Bangor and invited employers as well as insurance practitioners. Over 100 people attended.
In 1989,the no fault auto topic was addressed for the second time when Professor Jeffrey O’Connell of the University of Virginia who was known as the Father of No Fault auto insurance, and Virginia Knauer made a presentation to over 100 insurance and legislative attendees at Keeley’s Convention Center in Portland.
The Maine Chapter began co-sponsoring seminars with the National Society in 1990, offering one each year for the next four years. Featuring nationally recognized instructors in such areas as Directors and Officers Liability, Workers Compensation, and Risk Management, the Chapter provided yet another valuable educational service to the Maine insurance industry.
Throughout the 1990s MMG Insurance had encouraged employees to pursue insurance designations and was so successful that Maine soon had a large number of members in Aroostook County. To meet the need for members in that area the chapter started holding breakfast meetings in the late 1990s, on the last Friday in June which is the day after the Aroostook County Agents golf outing.
The Chapter then had strong participation in southern and northern Maine but did not have a vehicle to serve CPCUs in Central Maine. In 2011 the Chapter moved to solve this issue by initiating a luncheon meeting in Bangor in late March. The first meeting featured Bureau of Insurance speakers, the President of Husson College and Brent Cross, CPCU, who had taught insurance at Husson for many years.
In 2009 the Chapter started hosting meetings focused on one type of business. The thought was that given the success of the annual Panel that additional structure would help members to attend. As a result the Chapter started meetings such as the construction focus meeting in the fall and the manufacturing focus meeting at the Spring Bangor meeting. Both meetings have generated high turnouts.
Individual Achievements ~~ 1993 -1994 Standard Setters
In 1993 the Society of CPCU introduced the Standard Setter award to recognize “CPCUs who have projected professionalism through a contribution to the insurance industry and the community”. Maine Chapter was duly proud to have two of its members honored in the very first year of the award.
Louise “Nicki” Griffin, CPCU of Peerless Insurance was the Standard Setter for the month of February, 1993. A full page article in the Society’s national magazine, CPCU News, recognized her years of service to industry groups such as the NAIW, Maine Chapter of CPCU (President 1988-1989), Independent Agents of Maine, and Maine Insurance Field Club as well as her volunteer work outside the industry for Camp Sunshine, Special Olympics, Portland Concert Association and other charitable groups.
Ten months later, Gail B. Burns, CPCU of Hanover of Maine was the December Standard Setter. A CPCU News article cited Burns’ work with the Sierra Leone Insurance Association. During a visit to that West African country, she met with officers and employees of many Freetown insurance companies and introduced them to the educational opportunities offered by the Insurance Institute of America. Due to her efforts over 600 people expressed interest by signing up for courses! Gail was surprised to learn that the people she had initially contacted had named the project the “Gail B. Burns Insurance Training Project”. Gail was also very active in the Maine Chapter of CPCU having served as President in 1993-1994.
Marie Connolly of Clark Associates gained local fame in 1977 by earning the CPCU designation at age 27, becoming one of the youngest CPCUs in the country. She was the third Maine woman to achieve the CPCU designation. Jeff Lind of Clark Associates broke Maine’s record in 2000, earning the CPCU designation at age 25,a mere three years after beginning his studies.
Lee G. Allen ~~ Presidents’ Award of Excellence
In 1995, Chapter President Howard Candage created the Maine Chapter Eagle of Excellence Award to acknowledge a chapter member for outstanding contributions to the insurance industry in Maine. The first recipient of the award was John Leonard, CPCU, President of Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company. Leonard was recognized for his leading role in rescuing Maine’s Workers Compensation system from the brink of disaster.
In May 2001 the award was renamed the Lee Allen President’s Award for Excellence. It continues to be given to recognize chapter members for their industry contributions.
Past Award Recipients
1995 John Leonard, CPCU
1996 Gail B. Burns, CPCU
1997 Edward D. “Ted” Noyes III, CPCU
1998 George N. Gould, Jr. CPCU
1999 Gail E. Lind, CPCU
2000 Robert J. O’Brien, CPCU
2001 Lee G. Allen, CPCU
2002 Walter C. “Pete” Smythe, CPCU
2003 Bill Thornton, CPCU
2004 Larry M. Shaw, CPCU
2005 Donald V. Hale, CPCU
2006 Howard Candage, CPCU
2007 Leo Simard, CPCU
2008 Charles Hamblen, CPCU
2009 Dana Kerr, CPCU
2010 Louise “Nikki” Griffin, CPCU
2011 David Nadeau, CPCU
2012 Brent Cross, CPCU
2013 Emily McEntee, CPCU
2014 Gregory Jamision, CPCU
2015 Lincoln Merrill Jr., CPCU
2016 Rachel Bannister, CPCU
2017 Catherine Duranceau, CPCU
2018 Mary Caswell, CPCU
2019 Jeff Lind, CPCU
2020 Tom Isherwood, CPCU
Maine Chapters members have excelled in the educational area as well. Patricia Dubois received the award for the highest grade nationally in the Insurance Institutes of America’s AIM program in 1982. She later earned her CPCU designation in 1991.
In 1990 Charlene Stone of USF&G Insurance achieved a similar feat as the top scorer in the Insurance Institutes of America’s Associate in Underwriting (AU) exam series. Charlene earned the CPCU designation in 1993.
Marie Connolly of Clark Associates gained local fame in 1977 by earning the CPCU designation at age 27, becoming one of the youngest CPCUs in the country. She was the third Maine woman to achieve the CPCU designation. Jeff Lind of Clark Associates broke Maine’s record in 2000, earning the CPCU designation at age 25, a mere three years after beginning his studies. Amanda Atcheson broke Maine’s record again in 2007 at age 24.
In the late 2000s the Chapter leaders set their sights on national recognition. The Society had adopted a recognition program called the CPCU Circle of Excellence which had 3 levels of achievement, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The program took into account many aspects of Chapter success with the general goal of promoting the designation and improving the insurance mechanism. The chapter has attained:
In September 1996 the Chapter hosted the first Maine CPCU Chapter Golf Tournament at the Fairlawn Country Club in Poland. George Gould and Tom Isherwood were the primary proponents in the first year. The tournament has been held each year since. In more recent years the tournament has been held at the Biddeford Saco Country Club in June. Tournament proceeds have allowed the Maine Chapter to make donations to many worthy causes including food banks, domestic abuse shelters, the Cancer Community Center, A Company of Girls, the Animal Refuge League and others.
In 2009 the Chapter began supporting the Pink Tulip Project of the Maine Breast Cancer Association. With the assistance of Nikki Griffin, CPCU and Master Gardener, the chapter planted 600 pink tulip bulbs along Rt 22 in Portland in front of Clark Insurance.
September features the Maine Insurance Superintendent speaking on pressing issues in Augusta. October features a construction topic with the venue generously provided by Patriot Insurance. Likewise, Acadia Insurance has provided the venue for the January meeting. April has featured good works and “bring your child to work” day.
Beginning in 1999 by Chapter President Dave Nadeau, the Febuary meeting brought together top management of several local insurers in a President Panel. The Presidents’ Panel quickly became one of the largest educational gatherings of property and casualty insurance professionals in Maine each year. In 2012 the focus changed a little and the event became the Maine Leadership Panel thereby throwing a wider net to capture other Maine executives.
March is Ethics Month in which the Maine Chapter partners with the Maine Insurance Agents Association to provide Acredited seminars each year.
Looking to the Future
In the mid-2000s CPCU and industry leaders Ken Ross of Clark Insurance and Donald Hale, CPCU of MEMIC looked ahead and saw a growing need for new insurance professionals in Maine due to the aging workforce and fewer younger people entering the business. They contacted Richard Patenaude, President of the University of Southern Maine, about starting a Risk Management Program at USM. As a result the Risk Management and Insurance Program was initiated and Dana Kerr, CPCU, became the first professor of the Program. A key element to the initial success of the RMI Program was a fundraising drive for the Program that yielded over one million dollars. The Chapter latched onto this philanthropic effort and in 2009 awarded its first scholarships of $1500 each to two RMI students.
To fund the Scholarship, the Chapter Guide was initiated. This annual publication recognizes new designees/members, lists the past officers and award winners and lists the meetings for the year. Earnings from selling advertising pays for the scholarships. Additional funding is provided by the Loman Educational Foundation based on a small Chapter donation that allows us to double the size of the awards. As of 2012, we have awarded a total of $14,000 in Scholarships and have seen up to four of the graduating students enter the Industry so far.
In 2011, the National Society of CPCU and the Institutes of Insurance voted to merge. As a result of the merger, Local Chapters must adopt a new Chapter Agreement, new Chapter Bylaws and new Articles of Incorporation. In addition, the Fiscal Year will change to January through December. All of these changes are to be accomplished by the end of 2012.
Past Presidents of the Maine CPCU Society Chapter
1962 Arthur C. Buettner, CPCU
1963 Douglas R. Johnson, CPCU
1964 George M. Frame, CPCU
1965 Leone G. Allen, CPCU
1966 Andrew J. Orr, CPCU
1967 Andrew J. Orr, CPCU
1968 Robert C. Crane, CPCU
1969 Oscar A. Noyes, Jr., CPCU
1970 Walton G. Johnson, CPCU
1971 Walton G. Johnson, CPCU
1972 Walton G. Johnson, CPCU
1973 Leone G. Allen, CPCU
1974 Arthur Beuttner, CPCU
1975 Bruce L. Ruben, CPCU
1976 Jonathan C. Robinson, CPCU
1977 Jonathan C. Robinson, CPCU
1978 Douglas R. Johnson, CPCU, F. Stevenson Burton, CPCU
1979 F. Stevenson Burton, CPCU
1980 John G. Chandler, CPCU
1981 John G. Chandler, CPCU
1982 Marie K. Connolly, CPCU
1983 Francis A. Ferland, CPCU
1984 Herbert F. Moulton, CPCU
1985 O. William Robertson, CPCU
1986 Richard A. Sawyer, CPCU
1987 Louise J. Griffin, CPCU
1988 Roger B. Cote, CPCU
1989 Lincoln J. Merrill, Jr. , CPCU
1990 Robert J. O’Brien, CPCU
1991 Paul H. Hershey, CPCU
1992 Robert King, CPCU
1993 Gail B. Burns, CPCU
1994 Howard E. Candage, CPCU
1995 Debra Woolley, CPCU
1996 George N. Gould, Jr. , CPCU
1997 Jonel Thames-Leake, CPCU
1998 David E. Nadeau, CPCU
1999 Thomas A. Isherwood, CPCU
2000 Leo J. Simard, CPCU
2001 Ann M. Boisvert, CPCU
2002 Laureen H. Webb, CPCU
2003 Robert T. Warren, CPCU
2004 Brett P. Davis, CPCU
2005 Melony Hunt LeShane, CPCU
2006 David L. Johnson, CPCU
2007 Emily S. McEntee, CPCU
2008 Steven J. Prue, CPCU
2009 Linda A. Beever, CPCU
2010 Scott B. Miller, CPCU
2011 Deborah Gregoire, CPCU
2012 Terri Arsenault, CPCU
2013 Rachel Bannister, CPCU
2014 Denise Hall, CPCU
2015 George MacKinnon, CPCU
2016 Eric Swanson, CPCU
I wish to extend special thanks to the following people for their support, recollections and contributions that became part of this history. Aside from their many efforts which have contributed to our chapters’ success, this document itself would have been impossible without their contributions.
Lee Allen, CPCU
Ron Arthur, CPCU, The CPCU Society, Malvern, PA
Howard Candage, CPCU
Gail Lind, CPCU
Dave Nadeau, CPCU
Leo Simard, CPCU
Laurie Webb, CPCU
Linda Beever, CPCU
Robert J. O’Brien, CPCU
Scott Miller, CPCU