Ruth E. Salzmann, 95
Ruth E. Salzmann died peacefully on July 24, 2014 at Harmony House in Stevens Point. She was 95.
Ruth was born January 24, 1919 in Madison, Wisc. to Margaret Doll and Elmer Salzmann. The family lived in Highland, Wisc. until 1925 when they moved to Fond du Lac. Ruth graduated from Fond du Lac High School in 1936, winning the Daughters of the American Revolution medal. Shortly after graduation she was chosen Miss Fond du Lac as part of the city’s centennial celebration.
Ruth attended Oshkosh State Teacher’s College for two years and transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she graduated in 1940 with a double major in accounting and statistics and a minor in math.
Immediately following graduation she was employed by Hardware Mutual Casualty Company in Stevens Point as an actuarial research assistant. In 1944 she worked out of Hardware’s Chicago office as a payroll auditor, returning to the home office in 1945 as an assistant actuary.
Ruth passed her associate actuary exams in 1946 and her fellow exams in 1947 to become the first woman in the Casualty Actuarial Society to be designated an actuarial fellow by exam.
In 1959 she moved to Philadelphia to take a position with the Insurance Company of North America, INA, which is now part of CIGNA. In 1962 she became the company’s first woman officer holding the positions of associate actuary, group actuary and secretary of underwriting before returning to Stevens Point in 1968 to rejoin what is now Sentry Insurance.
Assuming the position of vice president and actuary, Ruth became the first woman vice president of the company. Later she became the first woman to serve on the Sentry Board of Directors. She retired in 1984 with the title of executive vice president and actuary.
Ruth was active in her profession becoming the first woman president of the Casualty Actuarial Society in 1978. She developed mathematical tables — the Salzmann curves — that were a primary basis for pricing property insurance for 40 years. Her 1963 paper, Rating by Layer of Insurance, was required reading for actuarial students into the 21st century.
Following her retirement she wrote a book, “Estimated Liabilities for Loss & Loss Adjustment Expense” and was an actuarial consultant and expert witness for several court cases. She also served on the boards of the John Hancock Fire and Casualty subsidiary; the John Deere Fire and Casualty subsidiary (now owned by Sentry) and Neuberger and Berman Advisers Management Trust.
She became a member of the American Academy of Actuaries in 1965, was named Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business in 1984 and named one of the “100 Leading Women” by Business Insurance in 2000.
Ruth enjoyed music and sports. She was an accomplished cornet/trumpet player giving solo performances and playing in high school band and orchestra. She won a scholarship to music camp in Grand Rapids, Mich. and was selected to play with the Madison Symphony Orchestra while attending the University of Wisconsin.
Ruth played tournament tennis from high school onward. In 1950 she was ranked the No. 2 woman in Wisconsin. In retirement she continued to garner accolades in the sport competing in the national Senior Olympics.
Ruth was known for her sense of humor and ready laugh. In homage to her life as a single woman she celebrated Old Maid’s Day— a little-known national holiday designated for June 4 — by designing and sending out cards to her friends and family. She began the practice in 1959 and continued it for the next 40 years.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents and her sisters Claire Goble D’Ianni and Jean McClure. She is survived by her brother-in-law Mel McClure; nephew Paul Goble, his wife Donna and their children Nicholas, Celia and Alexander; nephew David Goble and his children David and Caroline; niece Barbara Krohn, her husband Greg and children Tim and Michael; and niece Judy Koster, her husband Kevin and children John, Ryan and Sarah as well as great-great nephew Cason Koster.
Ruth was a long-time member of Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church in Stevens Point.
A funeral service, officiated by her minister Susan Gilbert Zencka, will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, August 5, at Frame Memorial Presbyterian church. Viewings, also at the church, will be held 4 to 6 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Tuesday.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church, the YMCA of Stevens Point, the Salvation Army (for use in Portage County) and the Community Foundation of Portage County. Online condolences may be made at www.bostonfuneralhome.net.
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