About our Founder - Harold E. Riley
Harold E. Riley was born in Grandfield, Oklahoma during the Great Depression and moved about Texas living in Waco while his parents attended Baylor University and later, in Fort Worth, when his father attended Southwestern Theological Seminary. It was in Fort Worth, as a senior in high school, that he was asked to try out for the varsity football team – his first experience playing on a high school football team. Harold was a natural talent and before the end of the season he had received football scholarships to almost every prestigious school in the Southwest Conference, except his first choice, Baylor University. Not to be deterred, Harold hitchhiked to Waco, camped out without an appointment in the Head Coach’s office until the coach gave in and let him participate in Spring Training with the team. He had his scholarship by the end of the practice. After a successful college football career at Baylor that included becoming an All American and playing in the Orange Bowl, Harold declined an offer to be drafted by the Los Angeles Rams.
Leaving Baylor, Harold was barraged by job offers in the oil industry, coaching football, selling securities and insurance. He tried his hand at most of those opportunities but became intrigued by the living benefits of whole life insurance products. Based on a conviction that life insurance policy settlement options are a significant client benefit, he began selling whole-life, guaranteed cash value products that focused on helping clients create an income they could not outlive. Harold spent his early years in the insurance business helping companies grow exponentially, including the Moody family’s company, National Western Life Insurance Company.
In 1968, Harold wanted to build something for himself and began a company that would be the predecessor to Citizens, Inc. Almost fifty years later Citizens, Inc. has more than 1.6 billion in assets and almost 4.5 billion insurance in force. At 89 years old, Harold E. Riley has achieved the goal he had as a young man “to make a million dollars and give it all away”. While the actual total of his charity is closer to hundreds of millions, through the Harold E. Riley Foundation, which will receive the bulk of his estate at his death, Harold Riley has made a profound and lasting impact on its beneficiaries – Baylor University and the Southwestern Theological Seminary.