John (Jack) A. Bogardus Jr., age 92, former chairman, president and CEO of Alexander & Alexander insurance brokerage, passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s in Scottsdale, Arizona on June 28, according to his family.
Bogardus spent his childhood in Scarsdale, N.Y. In 1945, he enlisted in the Navy and around the same time he met Mary Lela Wood. They were married on June 9, 1950 right before his graduation from Princeton University.
The couple moved to New York City where he joined Alexander & Alexander Services, a multinational insurance brokerage. His early business career was interrupted by a two-year return stint to the Navy.
His entire 45-year business career was spent with A&A where he rose to president, CEO and chairman.
He helped build A&A into the world’s second largest insurance broker. It was bought by Aon Corp. for about $1.2 billion in 1997 in the biggest insurance merger up to that time.
Wall Street Journal obituary: John Bogardus Led Insurance Broker Through Rough Patch
A tribute published by the Wall Street Journal on July 30 —John Bogardus Led Insurance Broker Through Rough Patch— recalls that in the early 1980s A&A wanted to acquire British insurance broker Sedgwick Group but that deal fell apart. Bogardus then turned to acquiring Alexander Howden Group instead in 1982. But that did not turn out well. A&A discovered that Howden executives had diverted funds and spent lavishly on gifts and travel, costing A&A more than $300 million in write-offs and legal fees.
He served as a director of the Insurance Brokers Association of New York and a director and chairman of the National Association of Insurance Brokers. He was also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Insurance Committee, and a board member of the American Institute for Chartered Property, Casualty Underwriters and of the Insurance Institute of America.
He retired as a director of A&A in 1995.
In 2003, he published Spreading the Risks, a history of the insurance marketplace entitled Spreading the Risks, Insuring the American Experience.
The book spans the marketplace starting with ancient Greek and Roman civilizations dating back to B.C. to its humble beginnings in Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House in the late 1600s, and finally to the 21st century, with the most catastrophic event thus far in history, the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Bogardus said he began writing the book with intentions of documenting the history of A&A. While he was researching and documenting its history, Bogardus took a new direction. “I realized in doing my research that there was no book that you could find, no resource at all, which traced the history or even an overview of the way insurance developed and the way agents and brokers developed in this country,” he said.
Bogardus is survived by his wife of 70 years, Lela, their four children: John, Stephen, James and Janet, and a sister, Francis ‘Bunny’ A. Lang along with seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Because of COVID-19, there are no memorial events currently planned. The family asks people to consider a donation to Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, their favorite charity, or plant a Memorial Trees in memory (visit Sympathy Store).
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