2014 AFE Medal Goes to Life Insurance Visionary, Motivational Speaker Williams


Arthur L. Williams, Jr.

Scholarship recipients share their thoughts on AFE.

Palm Beach Atlantic University will present its American Free Enterprise Medal to Arthur L. Williams, Jr., a former high school football coach whose second career transformed the life insurance industry. A resident of Palm Beach and Highlands, North Carolina, Williams is also known as an author and motivational speaker.

The medal ceremony is set for 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports & Recreation, 1100 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. The ceremony is free and open="open" to the public. For more information, call (561) 803-2025.

 --  Read about the 2014 AFE Companion Medalists

 --  Read about the three 2014 AFE Scholarship Recipients

 -- View the AFE ceremony live

Art Williams was born in 1942 in Waycross, Georgia, to a middle-class family, and grew up in nearby Cairo, with the dream of becoming a football coach like his father. After college he was a high school football coach in Georgia for seven years. In the midst of a rewarding career as a winning high school football coach, boasting two "State Coach of the Year" awards, Williams made a decision that would change his life dramatically.

His decision had its roots in a personal experience. In 1963, his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, leaving his family with no will and very little life insurance. Williams, in college at the time, knew little about life insurance, but several years later, a cousin introduced him to a different concept­ "buy term and invest the difference." Williams was shocked to know that he could provide $150,000 of term coverage for the same premium he was paying for $15,000 of whole life. Remembering his parents' experience, and believing that his father had been misled, Williams became a crusader for the term insurance concept.

He began to sell term insurance part-time, and quickly found that his commissions surpassed his coach's salary. In 1973 he left his first company, ITT, for Waddell & Reed, another term company. And in 1977, with no business education or corporate management experience, he formed A.L. Williams & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia, with just 85 agents in one city.

A.L. Williams became one of the fastest-growing companies in modern business history. By 1990, the company had a sales force of 225,000 agents in 50 states and Canada. A.L. Williams ranked as the largest seller of life insurance in the world, and surpassed New York Life and Prudential combined, the number two and three ranked companies.

A.L. Williams changed the life insurance industry. In 1977 when A.L. Williams was founded, 90 percent of all life insurance sold was expensive cash value and in 1990, in just 12 short years, 90 percent of all life insurance sold was inexpensive term.

In November 1989, Williams sold his company to New York-based Primerica Corporation, a diversified financial services company.  He then served as an advisor to Primerica for a short period of time. Essentially retired from business, Williams and his wife moved from Atlanta to Palm Beach, and began to pursue other interests.

Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi State University and a master's degree in education from Auburn University, where he wrote his master's thesis on "The Motivation of the High School Athlete." The Atlanta Business Chronicle and Southern Illinois University have honored him the "Entrepreneur of the Year" awards. He also received honorary doctoral degrees from Liberty University and Regent University.

He has written five books, Common Sense; Pushing Up People; All You Can Do Is All You Can Do, But All You Can Do Is Enough; A.L. Williams Way; and Coach, which have helped to establish him as an authority on personal motivation and individual success. His third book, All You Can Do...was on the New York Times bestseller list in 1988.

In addition, Williams is a dynamic public speaker. For years, he traveled the country motivating crowds ranging from several thousand to 40,000 in the New Orleans Superdome. His views and principles on success and winning have challenged and inspired tens of thousands of men and women across the country to achieve personal financial security and independence.

Williams has been married for 54 years to the former Angela Hancock, whom he met and "fell in love within the second grade" and says is "my partner in everything." During their years with A.L. Williams Corp., she developed and ran the organization's Partners Program which was designed to keep partners involved in their spouse's business life.

The Williams' have two children, seven grandchildren and eight great- grandchildren.

Bank of America is a sponsor of American Free Enterprise Day.

Bank of America is one of the world's leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small businesses, middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 49 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,000 retail banking offices and approximately 16,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users and more than 15 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.