Magazine article Risk Management

In Memory: George Betterley

Magazine article Risk Management

In Memory: George Betterley

Article excerpt

On April 12, George Betterley, "the dean of risk management," passed away at his home after a battle with cancer. Over a forty-five-year career, Betterley made a name for himself and a place for risk management in companies around the world with his comprehensive business grace and know-how.

Inspired by dinner-table stories from his father, Betterley entered into risk management after completing college and serving as an Air Force captain in World War II. In 1950 he formed Betterley Associates with his father and brother. Here he furthered his progressive take on risk management that went beyond insurance policies.

"There was a complete lack of understanding of what a risk manager was and the broad range of information he or she needed to make the best decisions for the company," Betterley said in a 1998 article in Risk Management Magazine. "It has been my goal from the start to educate people at the boardroom level about the importance of risk management."

Betterley was an active and productive member of the nascent forms of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc. He founded the first New England chapter and spoke at seminars and chapter meetings throughout the United States. As a director and chair of RIMS' Risk Studies Foundation, he was one of the first people to try to convince universities to include risk management in their curricula. In 1998 he was honored by the society with the RIMS' Goodell Award.

"He did a lot to advance the risk management profession and RIMS," says Richard Betterley, president of Betterley Risk Consulting, in Sterling, Massachusetts and George's nephew. "He put in a lot of time and energy to get risk managers to where they are today."

His success had a lot to do with his style, according to those who worked with him. "George held all of us to the highest ethical standards; there was no compromising if he didn't think it was the right thing to do," Bill Hahn, who worked for Betterley Consulting Group (which Betterley formed in 1974), told RM in 1998. "[He] knew how to bridge the gap between vision and implementation," said Martin Seaney, the risk manager for Crown-Zellerbach, when it was a Betterley client.

Betterley spoke words to live by in his last interview with RM: "My philosophy of life is that you should leave the world a slightly better place, however small your contribution may be."

George Betterley's quiet dignity, absolute integrity and life-long experience as a risk management consultant set him apart from his peers. …

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