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Obituary: Remembering Neil A. Parmenter

Obituary

Remembering Neil A. Parmenter

By Tom Herget

SOA past president Neil A. Parmenter, FSA, MAAA, EA, FCA, passed away on May 3, 2009. He had been struggling with serious health issues for much of this year.

Parmenter was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa and always lived in the city he loved. He attended the University of Iowa, earning a bachelor's degree in actuarial science in 1960. He was senior actuary at Principal Life Insurance Company for 38 years before retiring in 2000. Parmenter was a consulting actuary after retirement. During his career, Parmenter worked in the areas of funding, financing and expensing of retirement benefit programs, and the management of retirement benefit administration and actuarial disciplines.

He was a strong leader of the SOA and contributed to its work for many years, serving in numerous capacities for the organization. Most recently, he was a member and vice chair of the Nominating Committee. In addition, Parmenter was a member of the Board of Governors (1996–99), SOA vice president (2000–02), president–elect (2002–03), and president of the Society for the 2003–04 term.

Serving on various SOA committees and task forces was a lifetime vocation for Parmenter. Following is a list of some of the groups he chaired, was an active member of, or where he served in an advisory capacity. Committees included: Examination; Education Steering and Coordination; Enrolled Actuaries; Elections; Admissions; Retirement Systems Professional Development; Annual Meeting Program; Finance; Retirement Systems Practice Advance; Operations; and Spring Meetings. Task forces included: Non–Mortality Decrement; Sections and Practice Areas; and Review of Discipline Procedures. He was also a member and past chair of the Pension Section Council and served as a member of the North American Actuarial Council.

Parmenter's volunteer involvement reached a number of organizations outside the SOA. He served as treasurer, secretary and president of the Des Moines Actuaries Club. Other professional activities included serving as a member of the following: the Joint Program Committee of the Enrolled Actuaries meeting, the Pension Practice Council of the American Academy of Actuaries, the Financial Structure Task Force of the Calvin Retirement Community and the Task Force on Grant Allocations to Nonprofit Organizations for the Municipal Parks and Recreation Department. He also served as National Officer and was a member of the National Executive Committee, nonprofit youth sports administration, for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) of the United States.

During his tenure as SOA president, Parmenter moved the membership forward in several dimensions: enhancing the value of the Society of Actuaries to its members, advancing the actuarial profession, redesigning the Education & Examination system to better fit needs expressed by our customers, increasing the demand for actuaries, amplifying the value associated with the FSA designation, and enhancing the actuary brand.

Parmenter was a strong advocate of the actuarial profession and was admired for his keen insight with regard to actuarial matters. He was also highly respected for his involvement in numerous actuarial and other volunteer activities. He brought a positive spirit to every project or activity he was involved in, both on a professional and personal level.

Past SOA President Dave Holland, FSA, MAAA, commented that the SOA lost a great leader and "I lost a good friend when Neil Parmenter passed away.

"When I first met Neil, he was SOA Examination Chairman and responsible for putting together and administering examinations covering the entire actuarial syllabus. Neil was a natural leader, which, with a family of eight children, was a necessity. He particularly loved youth athletics, where again he was a volunteer and a leader. He was also a man of great integrity, and the last issues we worked on together dealt with professionalism."

Colleague and Former SOA Board Member Ron Gebhardtsbauer, FSA, EA, MAAA, MSPA, FCA, said he will remember Neil very fondly and will miss him.

"Neil became president of the Society of Actuaries after giving an excellent speech at an SOA Spring Meeting. He never let the position go to his head, however. He was still the same friendly Neil that I had known for years on various retirement and pension committees. Dinners at those meetings with he and his wife Teresa were always fun. He also had some interesting outside activities related to local and national baseball organizations and I think he umpired occasionally. I'm sure he was a good umpire, as I remember him being excellent at resolving difficult impasses at meetings. We will miss him. He left us too soon."

Former SOA Board Member Chris Bone, FSA, MAAA, EA, first met Parmenter 20 years ago when he was a volunteer recruiting speakers for retirement meetings.

"A long–term stalwart and committed volunteer, Neil moved into the leadership of the Pension Section Council and then on to guide the Society of Actuaries and to leadership roles in other actuarial organizations. Not a partisan, but a man of balance in both work and life; one who assumed responsibilities carefully and disposed of them cheerfully and with kindness. He will be missed."

Parmenter is survived by his wife of 34 years, Teresa; his children, Greg (Donita), of North English, Iowa; Chris (Scott) of Des Moines; Kevin (Shelli), of Overland Park, Kan.; Tony (Sarah) of Urbandale, Iowa; Tim (Dana) of Johnston, Iowa; Andy (Mandy) of Des Moines; Matt (Katie) of West Des Moines and John of Des Moines. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Al and Lucile Parmenter.

At the funeral, his 14 grandchildren brought up baseballs that each had signed and put in a basket on top of the casket. As they left the church, the priest presided over the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Donations in Parmenter's memory may be made to Beaverdale Little League, Iowa Amateur Athletic Union, Holy Trinity Catholic Church or The Actuarial Foundation.

Tom Herget, FSA, MAAA, can be reached at herg411@aol.com.