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Insurance Hall of Fame adding four


Larry Rister comes up to Des Moines every month or so from his retirement home in Hot Springs Village, Ark., to visit his son’s family, but this week he has another item on the agenda: On Thursday, he will be inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame along with Jesse Patton, the president and CEO of Associations Marketing Group in West Des Moines; Louis Burkhalter Jr., retired owner of a Cedar Rapids insurance agency; and Laura Sullivan, who retired last year as a State Farm Insurance vice president in Bloomington, Ill.

Rister, 61, is credited with shaking up National Chiropractic Mutual Insurance Co. in the early 1980s. As executive vice president, Rister led the way as the insurer, now known as NCMIC Group Inc., diversified, grew and transformed into a mutual-stock company with several subsidiaries.

He stepped down as executive vice president in 1998 and worked as an executive administrator until retiring on Jan. 1, 2004.

NCMIC now has 146 employees and provides malpractice coverage to more than half of the nation’s chiropractors.

Patton, 46, grew up in Newton, where his father worked for the water department and his mother managed the family’s small motel. “At an early age, I got experience dealing with people and speaking with strangers,” Patton said.

He began his working career as a paramedic in Des Moines, taking part in 12,000 ambulance calls in four years. “I found that people were more traumatized by the cost of what was going on than by what we were actually doing to save their life,” Patton said, and that helped lead him into the insurance industry; he became an agent with Mutual of Omaha Cos.

Patton is a past president of the Des Moines Life Underwriters and the Iowa Association of Health Underwriters, and has earned the National Association of Health Underwriters’ Golden Eagle Award for outstanding production in health insurance for 13 consecutive years. He travels frequently to Washington, D.C., to work with government leaders on health-care issues and health savings accounts.

Burkhalter in 1949 became the first Iowan to receive the Chartered Property & Casualty designation, and spent more than 50 years working at Burkhalter Insurance Agency, which was founded by his father in 1906. He also holds the rank of major general in the Army and was division commander of the 103rd Infantry Division, and played violin in the Cedar Rapids Symphony for more than 50 years.

Sullivan received a law degree at Drake University, became director of the property and casualty division of the Iowa Insurance Division and joined State Farm as a senior attorney in 1975. She became secretary of the company in 1981 and vice president in 1988. She continues to serve on the boards of directors for several State Farm divisions.

The Insurance Hall of Fame was founded in 1997. This year’s inductions will increase its roster to 42 members.

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