Market Overview

RLI Mourns the Loss of Company Founder Gerald D. Stephens


RLI Corp. (NYSE:RLI) – It is with great sorrow that RLI announces the
passing of its founder, Gerald D. Stephens, on August 20, 2018 in
Peoria. He was 86.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Gerald D. Stephens (Photo: Business Wire)

Gerald D. Stephens (Photo: Business Wire)

"All of us at RLI are deeply saddened by the loss of our founder and
friend," said RLI Corp. Chairman & CEO Jonathan E. Michael. "Jerry was a
visionary leader whose passion for the specialty insurance business was
inspirational to the thousands of employees, insurance producers,
business partners and community partners his life touched during his
more than 50 years in the insurance industry. He was also a dedicated
philanthropist who cared deeply about his community."

Stephens founded RLI, a Peoria-based specialty insurance company, and
served as company president for 39 years before retiring in 2011 as
chairman of the board.


Stephens grew up in Peoria, IL and graduated from Peoria High School in
1951. He received an undergraduate degree in Insurance from the
University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1955. After graduation, he served in
the U.S. Army in Korea as a first lieutenant in the infantry before
joining H.O. Stephens & Son, Co., a family-owned retail insurance agency
in Peoria.

While working at his family's insurance agency, Stephens identified a
new business opportunity to insure contact lenses, and in 1961, founded
Replacement Lens, Inc., to process the business.

Over the span of 50 years, he guided the company through significant
growth and change. It was under his visionary leadership that RLI
evolved from a contact lens insurer and expanded into property, casualty
and surety markets, specializing in covering difficult insurance risks
typically avoided by larger multi-line insurers at the time. Today, RLI
offers many diverse, specialty insurance and surety products and has
nearly 40 branch office locations throughout the U.S.

In 1969, Stephens took the company public. RLI was traded on NASDAQ
before being listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1987. He
also led RLI to become the first company in Peoria, IL to offer an
Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 1975.

Stephens began sharing weekly essays with RLI employees in the 1990s.
The messages focused on enhancing company success and helping employees
live rich and fulfilled lives. In 2007, these "Message of the Week"
essays were published in a book.

In 1996, a few years after retiring its founding contact lens insurance
product, the company merged its RLI Vision Product Division with Hester
Enterprises, maker of Maui Jim sunglasses. Through that partnership,
Stephens was instrumental in bringing Maui Jim's administrative
headquarters to Peoria, IL and forging RLI's ownership stake in the
sunglass company.

Outside of his work at RLI, Stephens dedicated his time and talent to
many industry and community organizations. He was chairman of the
American Institutes Board and served on the board of directors for The
CPCU Society; International Insurance Society; American Institute for
CPCU; Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and its
predecessor the National Association of Independent Insurers.

He served as a director on the Harry J. Loman Foundation board; the
Brady Advisory Board at The Brady Urological Institute and the
University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Business Advisory Committee.

He also served on the board of directors for many Peoria-based
organizations, including Maui Jim; OSF Saint Francis Medical Center;
Bradley University; Jefferson Bank and Trust Company; Bank One-Peoria;
Fayette Companies; Country Club of Peoria and the Economic Development
Council of Peoria.

Stephens received numerous recognitions throughout his lifetime,
including Distinguished Graduate Awards from Peoria High School, the
named Gerald D. Stephens CPCU Chair in Risk Management and Insurance at
the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and the Gerald D.
Stephens Chair at Bradley University, the latter of which was endowed by

Stephens and his wife Helen generously supported many organizations and
causes. Together, they established the Gerald D. & Helen M. Stephens
Foundation and created the Gerald and Helen Stephens Professorship in
Wildlife endowment at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point in
memory of their son, Doug, who was a wildlife management student at the

In 2008, their generosity led OSF Children's Hospital of Illinois to
rename and dedicate its NICU as The Gerald D. and Helen M. Stephens
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Most recently in 2018, they established The Gerald D. and Helen M.
Stephens Directorship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and
The Gerald D. and Helen M. Stephens Center for Stone Disease at the
Brady Urological Institute, also at Johns Hopkins University School of

"Jerry built RLI on the foundation of great people, products and
service," said Michael. "We will honor his legacy by ensuring these core
tenets remain a strong part of our business model. We send our deepest
condolences to his wife, Helen, and their entire family."


RLI Corp. (NYSE:RLI) is a specialty insurer serving diverse, niche
property, casualty and surety markets. The company provides deep
underwriting expertise and superior service to commercial and personal
lines customers nationwide. RLI's products are offered through its
insurance subsidiaries RLI Insurance Company, Mt. Hawley Insurance
Company and Contractors Bonding and Insurance Company. All of RLI's
subsidiaries are rated A+ "Superior" by A.M. Best Company. RLI has paid
and increased regular dividends for 43 consecutive years and delivered
underwriting profits for 22 consecutive years. To learn more about RLI,

View Comments and Join the Discussion!