A hero does not do good deeds for glory. Through his work at the Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Company, Hal Arve’s unwavering commitment to the people of South Dade can be vouched for by all who know him. Dade County Farm Bureau represents over 3,000 members. Dade County farmers provide an economic impact of over $2.57 billion to the local and state economy.
When asked about the most rewarding experiences with the company over the past 40 years Hal thought for a moment answering, “I love my current position as manager where I can motivate those under me. It’s awesome seeing each of my team members reaching their full potential.” Obviously, Hal thrives on keeping momentum going with everyone on staff.
Hal expressed that his most difficult moment in the insurance industry was working through the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. He recalled the sensation of needing to be everywhere and attending to everyone’s needs. In spite of the stress of coping with the massive destruction, Hal proudly notes that Farm Bureau was the agency with the least complaints after the storm according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
When asked about Hal’s leadership, his assistant, Judy Fernandez replied, “Hal is not afraid to deal with problems or difficult circumstances. He thrives under pressure. Hal is a fair manager at Dade County Farm Bureau who is loved and respected by all. We feel safe, comfortable knowing that no matter what, Hal will always have our backs… and vice versa. His 40 years of knowledge inspires all of us. It is awesome that we have the opportunity to learn from Mr. Arve.”
Executive Director, Jorge Abreu added, “It is an honor to work with Hal. He is a man of his word who has guided me through the organization and the South Dade Community.”
It is probably safe to say that all of us in the South Dade community are grateful for Hal’s unending service to the community. How could you not love a man who describes his clients as “salt of the earth people that I’m proud to call lifelong friends.”
After asking several longtime friends of Hal Arve’s for a story or two to roast him a little before pouring on the accolades, I was surprised to only hear flattering remarks. Those asked missed an opportunity to get even with the man known as “ the jokester.”
“He’s a piece of work,” stated George Cooper. He did a roast for my 80th Birthday and was merciful on me, so this time I’ll give him a break.” Keeping his word George told how he was Scoutmaster of Troop 69 when Hal was one of the boys. “I also coached Hal’s baseball team. He’s a competitor. He always wanted to pitch but I made him play right field.”
“Lack of talent,” I asked.
After a hesitation, George skirted around the question, ”Wel-l-l…he went on to the University of Tampa and won a scholarship in football, not baseball. After graduation Hal returned home and applied for a job at Farm Bureau. I remember Jerry Underwood calling me about Hal. Told him he’s a competitor who doesn’t quit. Jerry made a wise decision and hired him on the spot.” George ended, “you mean that was 40 years ago?”
Next at bat was Bill Losner, “Hal’s a licensed pilot. He frequently flies to visit friends throughout Florida and Southern Georgia to help them out. Hal has a big heart. He’s a teacher. Hal took one of my grandsons hunting…got his first deer and turkey.” According to Bill, as a poker player Hal is a rub salt in the wounds type of winner but all in a friendly way. Bill finished “but I got him good the other day.”
Racey Timmons was next with untold accounts of Hal doing community service. He’s an auctioneer. He cooks. He sells tickets. He raises funds. He does just about anything humanely possible. I asked, “Does he sing too.” I thought I heard Racey mumble, let’s not go there.
Finally, Bill Bagget came to the plate. I gave him the sign to hit away. Would he deliver the knockout punch to finish this story? In anticipation of some juicy info my writing hand began to sweat but Bill fast-forwarded by saying, “You know I knew Hal long before I became a Pastor. We shared some crazy times but more recently I recall…” Knowing the limitations after that statement I called for a pinch hitter. Charles LaPradd knocked it out of the park with, “Hal used to come out of the closet each year wearing his Santa outfit. He would go house to house with gifts. One night when he left in full costume, I said thanks Hal.” He remarked how did you know it was me.” Smiling I said “Its your sneakers, you always wear the same pair of sneakers.”
Questioned about retirement Hal snapped back, “Retirement? Retire from what? Working with people you’ve known for over 40 years is not work. It’s just helping friends."