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Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot? Not If You Are a Former Aetna P&C Actuary!

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours.
And we’ll take a deep draught of good will,
For long, long ago.
—Auld Lang Syne

Actuarial Review is pleased to introduce the first of an occasional column called Reunion. Submissions can be accounts of any and all types of reunions — former employees, study group members or project volunteers — commemorating times when CAS members got together and made lasting memories.

Aetna Life and Casualty sold off all its casualty business in 1996, ending its history of employing hundreds of CAS members since 1914. Over the years, generations of CAS Fellows and Associates had called Aetna “home,” most of them achieving their professional designations while in Aetna’s student program.

On September 23, 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a second reunion of Aetna P&C actuarial alumni at the Town & County Club in Hartford, Connecticut. It was well attended, with 68 alumni and 21 spouses — 81 in total (yes, the math is correct … go figure!).  The time span represented by these alumni ranged from 1963, when Walt Farnum started as a new student, to 1994, when Tammi Dulberger began her career.

The attendees came from across the country to catch up with their old friends:

John “Bill” Wieder (“Mr.” Wieder to all Aetna actuaries) achieved his FCAS in 1949 and is the CAS’s oldest living member (98 years and counting). He was directly or indirectly involved with hiring all Aetna actuaries and is in touch with many of his protégés. When he joined Aetna in 1941 as an actuarial trainee, the company’s P&C actuaries were few in numbers:

  1. Burritt Hunt (FCAS 1914), a Charter Member of the CAS.
  2. Edmund Cammack (FCAS 1914), another Charter Member of the CAS.
  3. Paul Dorweiler (FCAS 1920), a CAS President who was first elected in 1932 and served two terms and who was also a prolific contributor to the Proceedings, the CAS peer-reviewed publication.
  4. Nels Valerius (FCAS 1928), who joined the company in 1925 and, like Paul Doweiler, published many papers in the Proceedings.
Seated, left to right, are Beatrice Rodgers, Greg Bertles, Fran Lattanzio and Tom Weidman. Standing, left to right, are Steve Belden, Pete Bothwell, Will Morgan and Ralph Blanchard.
Seated, left to right, are Beatrice Rodgers, Greg Bertles, Fran Lattanzio and Tom Weidman. Standing, left to right, are Steve Belden, Pete Bothwell, Will Morgan and Ralph Blanchard.

By 1955, Aetna recognized that such a small number of casualty actuaries was not sufficient for its needs. So, Bill Wieder was charged with the responsibility of hiring actuarial students and starting a P&C actuarial department. His specific mandate: “Hire a handful of trainees and maybe one or two will work out.” Bill hired five trainees: Harry Byrne, Jim Crowley, Walt Fitzgibbon, Joe Riccardo and Paul Simoneau. They definitely all worked out — all became CAS Fellows and spent their entire careers at Aetna! This “first round” of Aetna actuarial students was the basis for the excellent actuarial training program that continued until the dissolution of the Aetna P&C operations, 20 years ago.

Left to right are Russ Buckley, Mike Visintainer, Bernard Gilden, Deb Horovitz and Bernie Horovitz.

The reunion drew former employees from California, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan as well as from all over New England, New York and New Jersey. During the evening, the actuaries (and spouses) collaborated on five key predictions for what the future might hold in 2020. The group plans to reconvene in four to five years to do hindsight testing on their predictions.

I want to extend hearty thanks to CAS Fellows and past students Pam Sealand Reale, Deb Horovitz, Betsy DePaolo, Mary Beth Murphy, Bernard Pelletier, Bob Downer and Greg Bertles for their work organizing the event.

Former AR Editor-in-Chief Walt Wright, FCAS, is retired and living in Brooklyn, New York