Dammit. David B. Lea, Jr., passed away on August 14 in East Providence, RI. David Lea was truly one of the pioneers of our industry and helped lay much of the foundation of the brokerage business we serve today.
After graduating from URI in 1959 as a Hood Scholar, David entered the life insurance industry as an agent with John Hancock, eventually rising through the ranks of different insurance companies in New York and Virginia. In 1972 he joined forces with the late Edward R. Anderson founding what is known today as Brokers’ Service Marketing Group (BSMG), a life insurance brokerage agency he expertly ran until his retirement in 2017. Under David’s leadership BSMG developed a national reputation for excellence and innovation and has become the largest New England-based agency of its kind.
David was a founding member and chairman of NAILBA, the industry’s premier national association for BGAs and the brokerage business, and was recognized with the brokerage industry’s most prestigious award, NAILBA’s Douglas Mooers Award for Excellence, in 1998. He was instrumental in the success of the marketing group Brokerage Resources of America, LLC (BRAMCO), one of the country’s leading independently-owned insurance brokerage firms, representing a network of over 16,000 financial advisors who annually produce more than $250 million in life premium and $2 billion in annuities.
Throughout his career David was known as a trailblazer, becoming a true industry icon and ambassador to everyone he touched and paving the way for hundreds of other successful insurance professionals. He always believed that his professional success was not his own doing, but fully dependent on the people around him.
David was a positive force to all who knew him. Being kind and fair was his way; a sign hung on his office door that read simply, “Nice Matters.” David’s focus was on his family first, helping others and building a successful business. Through his unwavering generosity of time, talent and treasure, David helped everyone around him as a mentor and friend. His smile, roaring laugh, and raucous sense of humor could not be denied. He traveled the world for decades with his beloved wife Pat and many friends.
Giving back to the local community was hugely important to David. He was a URI foundation trustee, and a member of the URI College of Business advisory council.
Through his company’s annual charity golf tournament he has raised nearly one million dollars for three local charities: Amos House, Child & Family Services and Day One. My fondest memories of David stem from the many times he welcomed me (and seemingly a cast of thousands) to his home for a lavish dinner the night before the tournament, and for the hilarity at the auction after the tournament as he, as master of ceremonies and auctioneer, offered his own brand of caustic humor to the golf winners and begged, cajoled and often shamed those posing as reluctant to up their bids. I happen to be the caretaker now for a truly precious $1500 “Schnoodle” that I imagine was rescued for about a hundred bucks. I can’t even begin to catalog the challenges (and costs!) of arriving back at a “No Animals” hotel late at night with a puppy in tow, nor the anxiety (and cost) of equipping oneself with all the necessary accoutrements—at 10:00 am when the pet store opened—and making an 11:30 am flight back home. The ticket counter agent wasn’t particularly happy, but Leala seems to be.
David will be remembered for how he treated all who knew him, and the positive impact he made on so many people. A life full of love, spectacularly lived by one simple rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Besides his wonderful wife Pat, he is survived by four children: Deborah A. Ross, Jeanne C. Hunt, David B. Lea III and Jason E. Lea as well as nine grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Amos House, 460 Pine Street Providence, RI 02907 or online at www.amoshouse.com/MakeaDifference/GiveNow.
The measure of a man’s life may very well be the number of people whose lives they have touched in a positive and memorable way. Through his leadership, savvy and truly caring nature many many thousands of consumers have insurance that either has or will provide some measure of solace in a time of great emotional upheaval and financial need. I’m confident that simple smiles and small kindnesses touched legions more during his day-to-day life. In my personal experience I’ve seen literally hundreds of insurance folks over many years share a genuine smile and a chuckle with him at past NAILBAs and particularly at BSMG’s spectacular Charity Golf Tournament. A quiet testament to the countless friendships he seemingly effortlessly forged and the great respect and admiration he engendered particularly within the brokerage community. I’ve been blessed to be just one of many who deeply admired him and called him friend. [SPH]