Glenn Oakes Head of Madison, N.J., the former chairman and major shareholder of First Investors Consolidated Corporation (FICC), a national financial services firm based in New York City, died on Friday, September 14, 2012. He was 87.
Born in Peoria, I.L., in 1925, Mr. Head grew up in Springfield and attended college at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He left his home state in 1947 when an actuarial position opened up at the Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company of Iowa. Named a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in 1952, Mr. Head served as Chief Actuary and Director of the U.S. Life Company from 1953 until 1962. The owners of First Investors hired him in 1962 to start a life insurance company, which became First Investors Life (FIL). Mr. Head and partner David Grayson acquired control of the holding company, FICC, through a leveraged buy-out in 1968. In addition to FIL, FICC owned a broker dealer, First Investors Corporation, and an investment advisor, First Investors Management Company. Later on, Mr. Head was responsible for FICC building a transfer agent and acquiring a savings bank.
When Mr. Head and Mr. Grayson acquired First Investors, it was primarily a sales organization, with $55 million in assets. Upon Mr. Head’s retirement at the end of 2004, the First Investors Funds had over $6.6 billion in assets. FICC continues to thrive after being sold in early 2011.
Mr. Head was a member and president of the Madison, N.J. Board of Education and his success in those slots attracted the attention of local Republicans, who encouraged him to run for mayor. Mr. Head won a three-way contest in 1972, having been elected on the promise of providing administrative excellence. As mayor, he made good on that promise with electric utility improvements, reductions in town expenses, and lower taxes.
Mr. Head’s interest in business began when he was a boy, working on the floor of a Dr. Pepper bottling plant and setting up bowling pins at a local bowling alley. He welcomed risk, and as a teenager bet an acquaintance that he could take apart a car engine, put it back together, and drive the car again. He won.
Mr. Head’s pursuits extended beyond business. He took flying lessons and earned his commercial pilot’s license, eventually owning and flying a twin-engine Cessna. He bought a series of contiguous farms in Bluffs, Illinois, and flew himself out monthly to examine the soybeans and corn. When the farm grew in size and complexity, he created his own computer software to manage the accounting.
Mr. Head embodied the values of honesty, thrift, loyalty, and kindness. He was plain-spoken and friendly, and judged people by the quality of their character. Mr. Head seized his interests with gusto. Having taken up tennis in his 50s, he soon dominated the courts with drop shots and lobs. He discovered Nantucket with his family in the 1970s, and considered the island a rare jewel, even though he didn’t care for sand. Years later, he designed and built a house there.
Mr. Head and his wife, Carol Atwood, were married in Collins, I.A., in 1954. After the birth of their first child in Manhattan, they moved to Madison, N.J., and had four more children. In 2004, Mr. and Mrs. Head celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
He is survived by his wife; his children, Kathy Head of Summit, N.J., Glenn Head, Jr. of Brooklyn, N.Y., Marcia Head of Cambridge, M.A., Leslie Head of Short Hills, N.J., Linda Flanagan and her husband Robert of Summit, N.J.; his grandchildren, Brian Smith, Jenny Smith, Julie Flanagan, Jeff Flanagan, Paul Flanagan, Kate Head, Caroline Scheer, and Jessie Scheer; and his sister Annabelle Thompson.