Bankers Life Company, Des
In 1926, Gerard Nollen listed his occupation as “life insurance” on a biographic form. He was president of Bankers Life. This simplicity spoke much about the man.
Nollen was born in 1880, the grandson of Henrik P. Scholte, founder of the Pella colony. His father John was a newspaper editor and banker in Pella but he’d been a schoolteacher before leaving Holland and chose to tutor his children at home.
Gerard Nollen began working at his father’s bank at age fifteen, earning $1 a week. After graduating from Grinnell in 1902, his father wanted him to return to the family bank but instead Gerald went to Des Moines where he joined his brother Henry, fourteen years his senior, at Bankers Life for a brief but uniquely productive partnership. They developed a brilliant plan for the conversion of Bankers Life Association into Bankers Life Company, a purely mutual level premium legal reserve concern.
Gerard briefly worked for another Des Moines insurance company, Royal Union, before accepting a position at Equitable of Iowa in 1904. Four years later he was named actuary but given no authority to go with the title. He wanted more and was eventually lured away by his old employer Bankers Life with a salary three times what he was getting being paid at Equitable. This time he would stay at Bankers Life for forty-four years, serving as president from 1926 to 1946 and board chairman from 1946 to 1951. Nollen thought the most significant thing Bankers Life did while he was president was to go into group life insurance. When Gerald Nollen started at Bankers Life in 1912 the assets were less than $20 million, in 1957 when he retired they were $900 million.
He died in 1965 at age 85.