WoodmenLife's Storied History

On June 6, 1890, Joseph Cullen Root founded WoodmenLife in a small hotel room in downtown Omaha. Root had the simple idea of making life insurance available to everyone.

We’re proud of our fraternal heritage and our long-standing history of financial strength. We're inspired by our founder’s vision of what WoodmenLife could mean to American families, and humbled by the extraordinary organization we’ve grown to be these last 125-plus years.

Here we’d like to share highlights from each decade of WoodmenLife’s history. You can flip through this historical montage in chronological order, or click directly on the decade that interests you the most.

  • 1891
    First Death Claim WoodmenLife’s first death claim was paid to the mother of a 19-year-old drowning victim in Niles, Michigan.
    WoodmenLife had more than 88,000 members from all over the country
  • J.M. Taylor WoodmenLife chapters contributed more than $13,000 to hurricane and tidal wave victims in Galveston, Texas.
    In Jacksonville, Florida, member J.M. Taylor organized the first Boys of Woodcraft unit in 1903.
  • 1912
    1912 WoodmenLife Tower A new WoodmenLife building opened at the corner of 14th & Farnam in downtown Omaha and it was the tallest structure between Chicago and the Pacific ocean at the time.
    Membership surpassed 750,000.
  • 1921
    1920 Home Office Employees The first cash refunds were paid to members, totaling $1,250,000.
    Radio station WOAW made its first broadcast on April 2nd.
  • 1934
    1930 Membership List WoodmenLife Treasurer and U.S. Senator Morris Sheppard sponsored legislation to establish Federal Credit Unions, and Home Office associates received Credit Union Charger No. 16.
    WoodmenLife chapters donated more than $160,000 for food clothing, medical supplies, fuel and general relief during the Depression
  • 1940
    1940 WoodmenLife 50th Anniversary On June 6, WoodmenLife honored its 50th anniversary with a week-long celebration, including a parade, a service at founder Joseph Cullen Root’s grave and a special network radio program carried by more than 100 stations.
    WoodmenLife’s patriotic program began. Since then, more than 2.5 million American flags have been presented to non-profit and community organizations.
  • 1953
    1950 City Flag Donation Ceremony WoodmenLife established an award that still recognizes conservationists and environmentalists to this day.
    The slogan “The Family Fraternity” is adopted.
  • 1966
    1960 WoodmenLife Tower WoodmenLife exceeded $1 billion of insurance in force.
    The 30-story WoodmenLife Tower was dedicated.
  • 1970
    1970 Woodmen Rangers WoodmenLife reached $2 billion of insurance in force.
    The Catastrophic Illness Benefit was created in 1973, which gave financial assistance to members with leukemia, a brain tumor, lung cancer or tuberculosis. This benefit was retired in 2017.
  • 1983
    Olympic Flag Presentation WoodmenLife introduced its Adjustable Life product.
    WoodmenLife’s Adjustable Life product was rated best in the nation by a leading consumer magazine.
    WoodmenLife was the first insurer to provide its entire Field Force with laptop computers.
  • 1997
    Patriotic Program Anniversary WoodmenLife celebrated the 50th anniversary of the patriotic program, which in addition to presenting American flags, now includes American History Awards to middle and high school students.
    WoodmenLife and the American Red Cross formed a partnership that led to the creation of more than 1,000 member-led Disaster Action Teams. WoodmenLife donated more than $1 million to the Red Cross in subsequent years.
  • 2001
    9-11 Memorial Ceremony WoodmenLife responded to the tragic events of September 11 by creating a special tribute called “In Honor and Remembrance”. The memorial ceremony has been performed by thousands of members all over the nation on every 9/11 since. The fifth anniversary of the attacks was observed by two “towers of light” and two flags draped down the sides of the WoodmenLife Tower.
    Members were introduced to Woodmen Financial Services, Inc. (WFS), a subsidiary formed to provide members a wider range of financial products, including mutual funds, variable annuities and college savings plans.
    A second subsidiary, Woodmen Insurance Agency, Inc. (WIA) was formed. WIA was created to provide members outside WoodmenLife offerings, including disability and health insurance, personal insurancelines, and commercial insurance lines.
  • 2010
    Life insurance in force surpasses $35 billion.
    WoodmenLife powered a nonprofit dedicated to providing fundraising support online.
    Woodmen of the World implements new branding as WoodmenLife, with a new logo and the tagline Standing Strong for Generations.

Throughout our history, WoodmenLife has merged with five other fraternal benefit societies. The last took place in July 2001 when The Neighbors of Woodcraft became part of the WoodmenLife family.

WEB4 - 2/1/2017