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Published: Thursday, 2/23/2006

Insurance agent first taught school

BRYAN - Henry Loren Walters, 92, an insurance agent for 43 years who established agencies in other cities for Grange Insurance Companies, died Monday in the Hillside Country Living facility near here.

The cause of death is unknown, but his health had been in decline for about a year after he fractured his pelvis in a fall last winter, said his son, Ronald.

A 1931 graduate of Montpelier High School, Mr. Walters briefly attended then-Bowling Green State College before becoming an elementary schoolteacher at several one-room schoolhouses in northwest Ohio.

While teaching, he began selling insurance on the side, and in 1935 he gave up the classroom to co-found the Walters & Peck Insurance Agency in Bryan, which would sell "either the first or second policy" in Ohio for Grange, his son said.

With more and more people driving, even during the Depression, there was a growing need for auto policies, and the insurance business provided an opportunity for self-starters to launch their own businesses.

In the early days, Mr. Walters sold and serviced policies and also went out to adjust claims. Ronald Walters said his father was summoned at all hours of the night to go to accident scenes. "[It] was a part of the job - we grew up with it."

Mr. Walters' work for Grange also included appointing agents in neighboring cities. Mr. Walters established Grange-affiliated agencies in Toledo, Findlay, Sandusky, and Defiance.

In 1960, Mr. Walters became a Grange Insurance director. He retired from his own agency practice in 1978 and from the company directorship in 1984, with Grange naming him a director emeritus thereafter.

Ronald Walters said his father's civic-mindedness - and perhaps a desire to make business-related contacts - led him to join local groups. He was a charter and lifetime member of the Bryan Kiwanis Club, for which he served as president, and a 70-year member of the Pulaski Grange Organization, of which he was a past master.

He was a 50-year member of both the Bryan Masonic Lodge and Wesley United Methodist Church, Bryan. His Masonic affiliations included the Scottish Rite and Zenobia Shrine in Toledo.

Mr. Walters married Wanda Elinora Patten in June, 1938. She died in March, 2003.

Surviving are a son, Ronald, two grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

The body will be in the Oberlin-Ford Funeral Home, Bryan, after 6 p.m. today. Funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Wesley United Methodist Church, Bryan.

The family suggests tributes to the church's memorial fund, the SHARE Foundation of Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers of Williams County, or the Bryan Area Foundation-Wanda and Henry Walters Scholarship Fund.



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