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Oct 21
A Sad Day for the Big I NY Family

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Kathy Weinheimer 1954 - 2022
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From Lisa Lounsbury, Big I New York President & CEO:

Kathy Weinheimer was a role model for me and I was lucky to meet her early in my career.  She was known for being a seemingly “all knowing” insurance expert.  Whether it was a coverage, regulation or insurance law question, Kathy was our go to.  However, the quality I most admired was her unique ability to engage with people.  She could make small talk (and big talk!) with literally every person she encountered.  She was interesting and interested.  There were no airs about her and she was a friend to all.   
 
She will be incredibly missed on this earth.  While I know she in in a better place now and free of pain, I know how hard it must have been for her to leave her beloved family behind.  They were the blood that ran through her veins and she loved them with her whole heart.  We lost one of the best last night.  I will be eternally grateful to have known her and called her a friend.  Peace be with you, Kathy.

From Tim Dodge, Big I New York AVP of Research and Information

I met Kathy Weinheimer on an overcast day in March 2002. IIAANY, as this association was then known, had placed a blind ad in the Syracuse newspaper for a director of research. I was in my sixth month of unemployment, having lost my job when the internet company I worked for imploded after the September 11 attacks. I had left the insurance industry three years before when the large carrier I worked for eliminated my department. Still, Kathy gave me an interview for the position and offered it to me a few weeks later.

We worked together for the next 16 years. For most of that time we were a department of two. I went to her with questions; she came to me with questions. We car-pooled together on business trips. There were the Big I’s annual Legislative (“L”) Days, board of directors meetings, annual business meetings, committee meetings, Syracuse I Days, New York I Days, and dozens of other events. We worked together on the problems that regularly crop up between agencies and carriers, good and bad legislation, good and bad regulations, press releases, and just everyday coverage and compliance questions.

She had preceded me in the Big I’s insurance geek chair and knew all of the ropes that I didn’t. She explained to me how to use the NILS InSource software that I need to answer your compliance questions. She patiently showed me (more than once) how to complete the Big I’s, ahem, “challenging” expense reports (I have to give myself credit for the progress I showed; I didn’t cry the second time we went through it.) She remembered the past battles, the issues that seemed new to me but that she had dealt with back in the 90s, and the people to call. She had a rolodex. Yup, the old fashioned kind that spun on a wheel on her desk. She’d been at Big I since 1985 and she had met everyone at least once, from state insurance superintendents to agency principals to carrier branch managers.

As a manager, she was very easy to work for. She let me do my thing. When J.B. McCampbell and I got the idea for a video podcast about insurance geek subjects, her response was to go for it, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t know what a podcast was. She pushed for me to get on the IIABA’s Technical Affairs Committee, a role I still hold on a committee that I believe is the Big I’s most valuable best kept secret. She supported me as I developed continuing education courses, spoke at industry events, and even when I embarked on outside activities, most notably my long stint as a trustee on two public library boards. The only time I remember her saying “no” was when there was no budget room. 

She was an insurance person through and through, having grown up in an insurance family and worked at a carrier before coming to the Big I. More than that, though, she was a family person. The words most frequently heard coming from her mouth were “Fred,” “Mike,” and “Kevin” – her husband (with whom she got together in high school) and her two sons. After Kevin and his wife had their first child, she retired and moved full-time into the grandma business. The huge smile on her face whenever she dropped by our office with a little kid clutching her hand gave me the distinct feeling that she was not miserable in retirement. 

That was her – relentlessly upbeat, always agreeable, even though she and I had serious denominational differences when it came to baseball (her kids all had the New York Yankees logo decorating their foreheads long before any priest traced the sign of the cross on them; I am of the Red Sox persuasion.) She was magnanimous when the moment called for it; I got something Red Sox related for Christmas after each of the Sox’s World Series wins while she still worked here. However, her loyalties were strong. I strongly suspect that she and Fred were leading an underground movement to have the Yankees’ late catcher Thurman Munson canonized. The Vatican hasn’t responded to inquiries about it.

Cancer stole Kathy from her family and friends last night, and we are all poorer for it. Despite her illness, she still thought to text me last July 12 on my birthday. It was the last time I heard from her. She asked about my retirement plans (I don’t have them yet,) and she said this: “My only advice is don’t wait too long if you are in a position to retire because you never know what life is going to throw at you. I never looked back and had a great four years before being thrown a curve ball (I guess that’s an understatement!)”

Good advice. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, good or bad. Remember Kathy’s wisdom, her grace and her good humor. If you’re the praying type, send a few prayers up for her soul and her family. If you’re not, try to model yourself after someone who 20 years ago rolled the dice on a guy who’d been unemployed twice in three years and hadn’t looked at an insurance policy in all that time. It’s that kind of faith and compassion that this world needs. 

Thank you, Kathy, for taking a chance on me and for being my support for so long. Peace to you and those who love you.

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