Long-time Sacramento lobbyist for California insurance agents and former Federal Bureau of Investigations investigator, Fred G. Dupuis, died last week in Marin County, where he had lived for 60 years.
Dupuis was 93 years of age. He passed away quietly after a brief hospitalization with a failing heart.
Publically, Dupuis will be remembered as the executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents of California who in 1979 lobbied successfully to get a bill known as AB 580 passed over the veto of then Gov. Jerry Brown. The override of his veto was only the fourth time in California history a Governor’s veto had been undone. The law prevented bank-holding companies from selling insurance.
“Fred just had a way with people,” said John Norwood, a lobbyist who worked with Dupuis at the time, explaining what made Dupuis effective in the Capitol. “He certainly knew the issues. But he just had a special way with people.”
Norwood said Dupuis would make him highly nervous during the effort to pass AB 580. Dupuis had been preparing for the effort, marshalling the evidence to illustrate the need for the law, and had collected a whole closetful of documents. In fact, he had so much information that culling it all down to manageable statements was difficult. Norwood would try to get Dupuis to prepare a short, focused message before he testified before legislators or made a presentation, but he just could not part with his facts and drafting a speech was impossible.
But, then, as Norwood was expecting disaster, Dupuis would get up and give a cogent, persuasive presentation—persuasive enough to get two-thirds of legislators in both houses convinced.
Dupuis was executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of California, the predecessor organization to Insurance Brokers and Agents of the West (IBA West), for almost 20 years, until 1982, said Jerry O’Kane, former CEO of IBA West.
Dupuis tried to retire from his duties running the organization twice before he actually did, O’Kane said. In 1977, health problems caused his to relinquish his position as chief executive, and he limited his efforts to lobbying only. But his replacement did not work out and the group had to bring him back. He tried again a few years later, and had to be brought back a second time. Finally, O’Kane was hired as his replacement, and that was Dupuis’ last departure.
His three retirement parties probably set a record, O’Kane said.
Dupuis may also be remembered as one of the two FBI agents who collected information on Communist activities and sympathies in the film industry, an investigation that led to the identification of the group known as the Hollywood Ten. The Hollywood Ten were screen writers and directors who were held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
During the investigation, Dupuis met with Ronald Reagan, who was president of the Screen Actors Guild, in the early morning over the garbage cans at Reagan’s home, and once used Lucille Ball’s bathroom during a stakeout of one of her neighbors.
Dupuis’ son, Fred Dupuis, Jr., said his father was aware that history was judging the Hollywood Ten episode harshly, but that his father, who was merely following orders, was unrepentant.
“He felt at the time that it was the right thing to be doing,” son Fred said.
Personally, Dupuis is remembered as a man who was very open and accepting, and often funny, friends and family said. Son Fred said his father was socially and politically conservative. He ran twice for Congress as the Republican nominee, losing narrowly. But it was not uncommon for him to have good friends with very different views.
Son Fred said his father kept his sense of humor right up until the end, and told the following story as an example. When his father was taken to the hospital with his heart failing, he was unresponsive and he remained unresponsive for a full 3 hours. When Dupuis eventually returned to consciousness, son Fred breathed a sigh of relief and said: ‘Dad, you have been non-responsive for 3 hours!’
Dupuis deadpanned: “Well, maybe nobody said anything worth responding to.”
Dupuis was born in Montana in 1915. Then his family moved to Oregon. He graduated from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, Portland. He worked for the FBI for 13 years in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. After leaving the FBI, he worked as an arson investigator for the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Then he joined the Independent Insurance Agents Association.
In 1949, Dupuis happened to drive through Tiburon, across the bay from San Francisco, and decided to settle his family there. He moonlighted selling real estate to be able to afford to build a home on a hill overlooking the water. The family stayed in the Tiburon area, until he moved into an assisted living facility in nearby Corte Madera.
Dupuis’s wife of almost 60 years, Marybelle, passed away in 1996. He is survived by three children: Barbara Hames, Susan Dupuis and Fred S. Dupuis; six grandchildren, Philo Hunt, Marybelle Hunt, Brady Hunt, Scott Hames, Tyler Dupuis, and Dylan Dupuis; and five great-grandchildren.
Dupuis’ funeral will be a private service. There will be a celebration of life on Friday, September 25, from 4-6 p.m. at the family home in Belvedere.
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer a donation to City of Hope, Duarte, Calif. (www.cityofhope.org), the Marin Humane Society, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
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