Larry Burkett was selected by the Board of Governors as the 2015 recipient of the Buist M Anderson Distinguished Service Award.
Larry served as President of the Association of Life Insurance Counsel in 2001-02, a pivotal time in the Association’s history. It was during Larry’s tenure that the decision was made to move away from the long-standing home of the Association’s Annual Meeting—The Greenbrier—to assuage growing concerns regarding the perception of meeting at a remote, luxury resort amidst increasing fiscal constraints. It was also during Larry’s tenure that attention was focused on enhancing the diversity of the Association by increasing the number of women and minority members, and opening membership to lawyers in private practice. Larry’s vision and courage were crucial in transitioning an organization some perceived as becoming staid into the vibrant, forward-thinking Association we know today. In addition to serving the Association as President, Larry also served as a member of the Board of Governors and produced and presented the Massachusetts Life Insurance Law Update during the 1999 Annual Meeting.
Larry’s significant contributions to the Association are matched by those he made to the life insurance industry, the life insurance bar and to colleagues he met along the way. Larry joined the Law Division of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1973 and rose to become Executive Vice President and General Counsel, the position from which he retired in 2004. While at MassMutual, Larry received the company’s President’s Leadership Award and served as the initial Chairman of the company’s Leadership Advisory Board. He was the driving force behind enactment of mutual holding company legislation in Massachusetts. During the debate over mutual holding company legislative proposals in the late 1990’s, Larry had the foresight to understand that Massachusetts insurance laws needed to be updated to provide domestic insurers the option of converting to mutual holding company status. Larry devoted MassMutual’s legal and government relations resources to the successful pursuit of enactment of the existing Massachusetts mutual holding company law. Larry also helped form and represented MassMutual as a Director of Sargasso Mutual Insurance Company, a captive D&O liability insurer that he continued to serve until recently as an At-Large Director. The fact that Larry was asked to remain on the Board after his retirement from MassMutual is testament to the esteem in which he was held by his fellow Board members and the value his contributions provided. Larry also served previously as President and CEO of C.M. Life Insurance Company and MML Bay State Life Insurance Company, and served as a Director of C.M. Life Insurance Company, DLB Acquisition Corp., MML Bay State Life Insurance Company, MML Investors Services, Inc., MassMutual Benefits Management, Inc., MassMutual Holding MSC, Inc. and Oppenheimer Acquisition Corp.
Larry’s scholarship, leadership and willingness to serve extended to national trade associations and to academia. He served as Chairman of the ACLI Subcommittee on Litigation in 1990-91, Secretary of the Legal Section in 1996-97 and Chairman of the Legal Section in 1997-98. His Annual Reviews of Litigation for 1987 and 1988 were published in the Legal Section Proceedings. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Hartford Chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association. Larry was a speaker at the Insurance Institute of the University of Connecticut School of Law for several years, co-chaired the Eighth and Twenty-First Annual Insurance Institutes and served on the Institute’s Advisory Committee.
In Larry's nomination, he was referred to as a giant in the life insurance industry, noting that those who got to work with him felt greatly privileged by the opportunity. We agree. Larry’s intelligence, foresight, leadership and demonstrated excellence in service to our Association and our industry embody the qualities and values the Anderson Award was designed to honor.