In Memory of A. Haeworth Robertson III, FSA, MAAA

A. Haeworth Robertson III, FSA, MAAA, passed away quietly on March 7, 2017 at the age of 86 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Robertson is survived by his three children, Valerie Robertson, Alan Robertson and Mary Robertson, and his wife Mary Adeline Kissee Robertson.

Robertson received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma in 1951, and his graduate degree in actuarial science from the University of Michigan in 1953. He was a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries. He was also a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, the United Kingdom’s Institute of Actuaries, the International Actuarial Association, the International Association of Consulting Actuaries, and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Robertson served as a member of the Board of Governors (1978-1981) and as a Vice President of the Society of Actuaries (1985-1987), and as a member of numerous committees and advisory groups dealing with social insurance and private and public employee pension plans. In 1984 he was selected for a ten-year term and named first chairman of the Department of Defense Retirement Board of Actuaries, a three-person board appointed by the President of the United States to oversee the financial operations of the United States military retirement system and report thereon to the President and Congress—a fitting appointment as this is the same retirement system with which he began his actuarial career in 1953.

In May 2004 Robertson received the Robert J. Myers Public Service Award, one of the actuarial profession’s highest honors, presented annually by the American Academy of Actuaries. In 2007 he received the Wynn Kent Public Communication Award, which is presented annually by The Actuarial Foundation. In 2007 he was also selected by the Society of Actuaries as an Actuarial Pioneer.

Anna Rappaport, FSA, MAAA, and past president of the Society of Actuaries (1997-1998), remembers the impact Roberson had in the actuarial profession and society in general. “Haeworth Robertson served as chief actuary of the Social Security administration and he was on a mission to help the American public understand the implications of the baby boom and other demographic shifts for Social Security,” she recalls. “This was very important. The actuarial profession supported this effort by sponsoring a number of meetings where Haeworth debated other Social Security experts, including Robert Myers. These meetings were very helpful in getting actuaries and the public involved in this debate.”

Robertson was a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. “Among its members, over the years, have been three Presidents, two Vice Presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 36 Nobel Prize winners, 61 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 55 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Rappaport explains. “One of the things I loved at the Cosmos Club was an exhibit of postage stamps featuring members of the Club over the years. Haeworth invited me and others to the Cosmos Club on a number of occasions and he would generally take his guests on a tour to see the stamps, the library and many of the other features of the club. These were always memorable evenings.”

Robertson was a lifelong learner and he continued his academic studies through his later years, studying philosophy at St. John’s College and teaching and mentoring actuarial students in China. After taking a course in creative writing he reinvented himself as a different kind of author, writing his autobiography and a series of mystery novels—with the actuary as hero. He continued to enjoy writing and the company of his monthly writer’s group until the end of his life.

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