It was on June 6, 1941, that Arthur W. Anderson embarked on what was to become a very successful career in the insurance profession. His early insurance career, however, was interrupted with the outbreak of World War II where he served in the field artillery division of General Patton’s Third Army in Europe. After returning from the war, he resumed working in the insurance field.
In 1955, Art opened his first office at the Meadowmart on Windsor Road with only two employees. With a great deal of hard work in the early years, the AW Anderson Agency began to grow. It was at this time that Art Anderson looked for a more visible location for a new office building. Groundbreaking for that new location occurred in 1959 at 6464 North Second Street in Loves Park, the current location of the office. The new facility offered housing for the agency as well as the regional claims department for Pekin Insurance.
As the community of Loves Park began to flourish in the early years of the town’s incorporation, so did the AW Anderson Agency. The office was incorporated and in 1963, Carl Lee joined the office as a producer and minority partner in the agency. Carl worked primarily in the life and health field in spurring on growth of the newly organized life company of Pekin Insurance. Crawford DeWitt and Debbie Nelson both joined the agency in 1968 as a producer and secretary respectively. It was shortly after this time that the agency became departmentalized to enable employees to specialize in certain areas of insurance to provide their customers with the best service possible.
The decade of the 1970s saw considerable changes to the agency. First, the agency office had two separate additions to the building to accommodate the need for the added personnel required to provide the best service to their expanding client base. In 1977, Art’s son, Jeff, joined the agency after serving as an adjuster with an insurance company to bring needed help in personal lines underwriting. Also in 1978 saw the addition of Tim Humpal as Life Department Manager. Tim brought previous experience as a successful life producer with Mass Mutual Financial Services.
In 1980, the agency experienced many changes. Mary Smith retired as a longtime secretary/office manager after 26 years of dedicated service. Steve Anderson was hired as a personal lines and life insurance producer and Gary Anderson followed a few months later to assist with the rapidly growing commercial department. In this same year, the agency purchased the Peterson-Gibson Insurance Agency in neighboring Rockford which they ran as a separate office until merging it with the AW Anderson Agency in 1989. The acquisition of this agency allowed the AW Anderson Agency to expand to include more clients in the Rockford area.
In 1993, Carl Lee retired as Chairman of the Board after serving 30 years with the agency and was succeeded by Crawford DeWitt. Mark Taylor was added that same year as a commercial lines producer after working several years in the credit ilfe and health field. Crawford DeWitt remained as Chairman of the Board until his retirement in 1998 and was succeeded by Jeff Anderson.
After 2000, the agency was remodeled again and added Chris Anderson in 2005 and Kyle Anderson in 2008 as producers after their graduation from Carthage College. Their addition makes the office a third generation family-owned business bringing energy and new ideas to enhance the progress of the office in the new century.
The AW Anderson Agency has been the recipient of numerous awards from many companies including Pekin Insurance. They have maintained the status of being the number one Property and Casualty agency for Pekin Insurance since 1965 and have received over 200 awards for outstanding life insurance production. Today, the agency has 12 full-time employees with over 250 years of combined experience. Many of their current and retired employees have worked over 25 years at the agency, giving it much stability. The office stands committed now and in the future to provide the pricing and service expected from their loyal customers.
Arthur Anderson’s Personal Life of Achievements
Born on Flag Day on June 14, 1922, in Rockford, Art’s parents had immigrated to the United States from Sweden. He remained ever proud of his Swedish heritage and kept in close contact with his relatives in Sweden. Art grew up in Loves Park and attended schools in the Harlem School District.
Enterprising from a very young age, Art had his first job at the age of eight delivering the Saturday Evening Post. He later worked as a youth as a shoe shine boy at the Forest Hills Country Club only to become the President of the country club as an adult. On June 6, 1941, he embarked on what was to become a very successful career in the insurance profession. His early insurance career, however, was interrupted with the outbreak of World War II where he served in the field artillery division of General Patton’s Third Army in Europe, obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the war, he helped to liberate prisoners in war camps.
After returning from the war, he married Betty Lou Ralston in 1950. They would later celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2000 prior to her passing in 2001. It was in 1955 that Art opened his first office at the Meadowmart on Windsor Road with only two employees, and in 1959, Art broke ground for an insurance office at 6464 North Second Street in Loves Park – the current location of his office. Their sons, Jeff, Steve and Gary, have followed in his professional footsteps and are currently the majority owners of their father’s agency. In 2004 and 2008, the office added his grandsons, Chris and Kyle, to the staff, making the office a third generation business.
As the community of Loves Park began to flourish in the early years of its incorporation, so also did the AW Anderson Agency. Now the agency employs twelve full-time employees. The agency building has been enlarged and remodeled several times over the past years to accommodate the growing needs of its clients. The evolution from birth to maturity of a successful business would not have been possible without leadership. It is not surprising that the office continued to grow under the leadership of Art Anderson into a professional and highly successful insurance agency.
Art was very active in the insurance industry during a career that spanned over 50 years. He began his tenure as a Board member of Pekin Insurance in 1970, retiring in 1995 after 25 years of dedicated service. Art also served on the board for Rockford Mutual Insurance and was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Winnebago County Mutual Insurance Company. He served in 1973 as President of the Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and was honored with the organization’s Lautum Award.
Many Rockford area organizations were beneficiaries of Art’s innumerable measures of energy, his constant pride of his hometown, and his vision and passion to do good for his community. To name only a few of Art’s contributions to the Rockford/Loves Park area:
- Member of the Harlem School Board for two terms
- Established the Arthur W. Anderson Scholarship Fund, which contributes annually to a deserving Harlem High School senior
- Lifelong member and past President of the Harlem Fans Club
- Board member and past President of Swedish American Hospital
- Director for the Rockford Museum Center
- Director for the Sinnissippi Lung Association
- Director for the Winnebago Center for the Blind
- Director for the United Bank of Loves Park
- Member of the Loves Park Lions Club
- Member of the local Shriner and Mason organizations
- Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Member of the American Legion
- Served on many committees for Grace Lutheran Church
Late in his life, Art worked closely with the Rockford Park District and served as the Chairman in establishing and building the Field of Honor Memorial in Loves Park. It was said the genius of the Field of Honor came from Art, who felt the need to honor those veterans who gave their lives in the line of duty. This park in which the memorial stands was later named the Arthur W. Anderson Peace Park.
In recognition for his civic pride, the gymnasium at Harlem High School was named after him in June of 1994 for his lifetime support of the school and its athletics program. He was often referred to as “Harlem’s Number One Fan,” which is engraved on the plague which now hangs in the gymnasium. He served as chairman of the Loves Park’s beautification committee and was honored on two occasions as the parade marshall for the Young at Heart Festival. The local history room of the North Suburban Library was named for Betty and Art Anderson for their effort in collecting and displaying the history of the City of Loves Park. In 1997, he received the Excalibur Award given annually by the Rockford Register Star to their top individual community volunteer. His sense of community has become an important part of the philosophy of the AW Anderson Agency and has spilled over to his agency staff who have served in various volunteer capacities in the Rockford/Loves Park area.
Art Anderson has been a mover and a shaker in the Loves Park community for many, many years. He has given of his time and talents to any organization, regardless of its size or stature. His involvement was never passive. To those who personally knew Art, he was keen-minded, persistent, ethical, creative, a visionary, caring and a mentor to many. He never let roadblocks in his life dissuade him from pursuing his dreams. His deep, folksy and ever-kind voice easily drew you in. He had a very special gift of pulling people together to bring projects to fruition. Art loved his family, his insurance career, his community and his country. His capacity to get things done in his career and his civic life both testify to the depth and breadth ofhis thinking, which earned him the respect and admiration of many.