William E. Darby: Arkansas Business Hall of Fame


William E. Darby

(1904 - 1979)
National Old Line Insurance Company

Little Rock, Arkansas


William E. Darby joined National Old Line Insurance Company in Little Rock in 1929. Through hard work and determination, he rose from insurance agent to president and chairman of the board. National Old Line attracted national attention for its phenomenal growth and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 1956 with the dedication of a new building in Little Rock. Darby personally directed a sales organization that grew from 17 representatives in 1945 to more than 250 in 1956. He oversaw the merger of the company with National Equity Life Insurance Company. When he retired in 1972, National Old Line had grown to a billion-dollar business and was among the top 10 percent of all insurance companies in the U.S. measured by life insurance in force.

Darby also was a successful breeder of cattle and thoroughbred horses. A strong advocate for higher education, he served as the state's first chairman of the newly formed Commission on Coordination of Higher Education. His philanthropy still lives through St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Heifer Project International, Darby Hall at the University of Arkansas and many other worthy organizations.


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