Passing the Gavel

By Paul HolmanHolman

I am a Financial Services Professional Agent with New York Life. My grandfather was Richard “Dick” Wallsten Sr., and he passed away on Sept. 24, 2012.

I began my insurance career at New York Life in March 2009. My grandfather and grandmother were always big supporters of my chosen path.

Just a few weeks ago, a few family members travelled to my brother’s house, and my grandmother was able to fly in from her home in Michigan. She pulled me aside and mentioned that she was going through some of grandpa’s things and came across one of his “insurance trophies.” She brought it with her to pass along to me because she thought I would find it interesting and motivational. I could hardly believe my eyes when she presented me with my grandfather’s NALU local president gavel and plaque!

gavelTurns out, he was the local president of the Southwestern Michigan chapter from 1977 to 1978. This was a shock to me because I am finishing my service as the local president of the NAIFA-Tidewater chapter. My grandmother didn’t know that I was following in my grandfather’s footsteps; so this one took us all by surprise.

It’s a pretty cool story because it’s a common saying in our federation: “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.” Little did I know that just two generations ago, my grandfather was doing the same good work as I am doing to support us.


  1. Paul,

    What a great story. I am a past president of a local that is the home of four past NAIFA national presidents. While none are family to me like your grandfather was to you, the legacy of their leadership carries through to this day, much like your grandfather’s does for you. And you’re so right…we do stand on the shoulders of those that came before us…advisors like your grandfather, who helped pave the way for us. Congratulations on completing your presidential year. I hope you will continue your NAIFA service by aspiring to higher offices and greater responsibilities. You and those like you are the future, and lifeblood of our association. I look forward to meeting you in New Orleans if you are in attendance.

  2. From a Fellow NYLIC and NAIFA Chapter President….Great Story and thank you for stepping up and assuming a leadership position…you obviously have it in your blood! Keep it up!

  3. Not only motivational but very moving and inspirational …. It’s always good to pass on a legacy of good will …. It’s comforting to know that what we do really does assist people in the most critical areas of life. Keep passing the gavel ….

  4. Hytholine Davis

    Awesome story, Paul! I can imagine how touching and heartwarming that was to receive your grandfather’s gavel from your grandmother. Very inspiring!