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Featured New York Life Insurance Agent: Jack M. Williams, CLU, ChFC

Why feature a New York Life Agent?
At New York Life, we believe all of our agents do great work, and that they perform a valuable service in their communities. But some agents go beyond that and make a real difference in the lives of those around them. So we have decided to feature one of our many agents that embodies our commitment to our most valuable asset, Our customers.

Jack M. Williams, CLU, ChFC, Oklahoma City Office, in a true rags–to–riches story, makes good on his promise to help others.

Ask 45–year veteran Jack M. Williams, CLU, ChFC, why he became a life insurance agent, and he'll shrug, "You got an hour?" It takes that long.

Today, the semi–retired agent points to a photo of himself as a scraggly boy in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1930. Back then, the country had sunk further into the Depression, putting coal miners, like his father, out of work and into the local bars. His mother had already died at age 28 from kidney trouble.

Left unsupervised, Williams dropped out of school and joined a gang. One afternoon, they piled rocks onto a railroad track and derailed a train, almost killing the engineer. The police sent the older boys off to reform school, but they didn't know what to do with the nine–year–old Williams. Word spread, and a mother of three named Rosa Wright offered to take Williams for two weeks until they found a suitable foster home.

Look Who's at Dinner
When Mrs. Wright met him, she was stunned. In a story later picked up by Reader's Digest, she wrote, "I always thought adopted kids were appealing children who had a habit of lisping the cutest things at just the right time."

Wrong. Weighing only 60 pounds, 30 pounds underweight, he hacked "a graveyard bark" and spit like an old man. He squinted as if always looking at the sun. He lied consistently and spoke his own jargon — a disjointed grammar coupled with a Welsh accent. And he glared at her kids.

After a few days, he gained weight — and confidence. But his progress came to a screeching halt two weeks later, when he was told to go home, and perhaps work in the mines. He pleaded with Mrs. Wright to stay longer. "I kept telling her, 'If you'll keep me, I'll make good,'" he recounts.

Not knowing how to say "No," she left the decision up to her children, who'd grown jealous of the attention he was getting. To her surprise, they said yes. And his two–week stay turned into 20 years.

Making Good
With the support of his new family, Williams excelled. He played the piano in the high school orchestra. He won a four–year scholarship to Rutgers. By junior year, he'd married and earned his pilot's license. In WWII, he served in the U.S. Navy as a carrier torpedo bomber pilot and was awarded numerous medals. Still, after the war, when Mother Wright was on her deathbed, he was again reminded of his pledge to "make good."

"The only way I could thank her was to find a job helping others," says Williams, who moved to Oklahoma (his wife's home) in 1952.

Choosing Life
That same year, he met a pesky life insurance agent, who was always trying to sell him something. It irritated him. "He made me feel as if I was already laid out in the casket. I figured I could sell better than that."

Williams banked his career on out–servicing the competition. His approach was put to the test one year later when a competing agent told his prospect he could buy the same policy for $1,000 less if he went with the other company. Williams countered, "The only thing you get with New York Life that you don't get with his company is me." The client stayed.

His most rewarding part of the sale, though, is not signing the application but delivering death claims. The 77–year–old, who now has two sons and seven grandchildren, explains, "That's when all the promises I made them come true."

Although he has no immediate plans to retire, he's already named his successor. "The day I stop working is the day I die," vows the 25–year MDRT member and past president of the local CLU and LUA chapters. "I tell clients, "I hope to live until I'm 100." When they ask why, I reply, "I plan to be around when you need me."

Even prospects who don't think they need him get a dose of his persistency. A few years ago, a father of three refused insurance. "I was so troubled, I couldn't sleep," he says. At 3:00 that morning, he calculated the very minimum coverage they needed. The next day, Williams called on them again. They were so impressed with his concern, they bought more.

But Williams doesn't just gauge his success on whether prospects buy or not. "They should be happier at the end of my visit than at the beginning," he says. "And hopefully, not just because I'm leaving."


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Featured New York Life Insurance Agent: Jack M. Williams, CLU, ChFC

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