Humble Beginnings Provided Motivation for AFA Founder
Bill's grandfather, C.W. Cameron, and his father, C.B. Cameron, started AFA in 1960 as an outgrowth of an insurance agency C.W. had operated since 1930. The elder Cameron's humble beginnings make the present-day success of the Company all the more remarkable.
The oldest of seven children, C.W. was raised on a small tenant farm near Mangum, Oklahoma. When his father was disabled, C.W. dropped out of school at age 14 to help take care of the family and run the farm. He later worked odd jobs as a carpenter, cotton picker and part-time bank clerk. Life was uncertain and financial struggles persisted.
"I think a lot of what my grandfather went through in his childhood left an impression on him and was the genesis for him going into the insurance business," says Cameron.
C.W. worked his way up to assistant cashier at the First National Bank of Altus, earning $135 a month. He noticed that insurance salesmen seemed to bring in larger paychecks, so he decided to try that line of work. He partnered with a farmer in starting the Boise and Cameron agency in 1930. The business prospered until the Great Depression took its toll, forcing Boise to leave the agency in 1932.
Using his savings, C.W. bought one-third of an agency in Davidson and sold fire, casualty and disability insurance. He also sold insurance for other firms, but his big break came when he started selling insurance for North American Accident and Health Insurance Company of Chicago in 1933. C.W. sold his interest in the Davidson agency and became the local agent for North American. Two years later he moved to Oklahoma City to become North American’s general agent for the state of Oklahoma. In a short time, C.W. distinguished himself as the top-selling agent managing the most profitable North American branch in the nation. By the mid-1940s, he was the general agent for four states.
Source: Oklahoma: A Rich Heritage, American Historical Press, 2004.