John Lillis began his insurance career out of necessity when he was just a teenager. At age 12, John’s father passed, leaving him, his mother and six siblings without the family breadwinner. To help support his family, John began doing odd jobs including driving hog trucks and school buses, delivering the mail, and working at the Lillis Insurance Agency, which his father had started.
When John turned 18, he earned his property and casualty license, became an agent, worked hard, and eventually purchased Lillis Insurance in 1962. For 50 years, John grew and managed the successful agency.
John has held numerous influential roles in the insurance community. He was a founding member of the Rural Agents Committee, represented Iowa at the national Mid America Technical Conference Committee (MTCC), chaired a subcommittee at MTCC that was influential in the creation of a new insurance product, crop insurance. He also served as chairman of the National Big I/Small Town/Rural Agents Committee, where he chaired the Agricultural Issues committee. John was awarded the HH “Red” Nelson Award (Agent of the Year) from the Big I in 1997.
John was also a pillar of the Williamsburg community. He served as a volunteer fireman for 18 years serving as Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Chief; was on the Williamsburg Zoning Commission for 50 years including 43 years as Chairman. He was a member of the Lions Club and Knights of Columbus (Fourth Degree Member) for over 50 years. He ran the “chain gang” for the Williamsburg High School football team for 20 years. John has helped many community members “behind the scenes” never seeking recognition, or even a thank you.
John leaves behind a legacy of helping and supporting members of his community. His tireless work ethic, ability to look toward the future, and generous, selfless nature, have made his life thus far amazing. John is honored to be joining the ranks of the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame.