By Ed Forry
A Boston businessman who is one of our city’s leading philanthropists has announced his plans to retire this fall.
Bob Sheridan, for the past 20 years president and CEO of Savings Bank Life Insurance (SBLI), said he will step down in November.
The Everett-born Sheridan, who has family roots in Sligo, is a graduate of BC High and Boston College, and holds a law degree from Suffolk University. He and his wife, Jean O’Hara, reside in Hingham, where they raised their four children.
Since he took the controls at SBLI 20 years ago, the life insurance firm based in Woburn has grown and prospered, thanks in part to Sheridan’s commitment to supporting community endeavors in every corner of the marketplace. His company is known to be a leader in the city’s business community, where corporate sponsorships of such events as charity road races, and fundraising dinners are the lifeblood of the city’s non-profit community.
Typifying his commitment, Sheridan headed a fund drive to construct a Dorchester home for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA,) and the Bob and Jean Sheridan headquarters building was dedicated to him and his wife.
In a June 2007 interview in these pages, Sheridan explained his world view: “Life is not about titles and money,” he said. “Money doesn’t buy it for you. It’s about family! I think a good mark of a person is the success of their children, and in that, I am blessed beyond belief.”
“Next to Catholicism, loyalty is my second religion,” Sheridan said.
In a statement, SBLI attributed other comments from Boston leaders: “Bob Sheridan is a great businessman and he epitomizes corporate responsibility,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “When SBLI is involved in a project that means boots on the ground and hands helping out, and you can always be sure that Bob himself is among those physically at different events and initiatives taking part. We look forward to working closely with his successor and will sorely miss Bob.”
“Bob Sheridan’s impressive leadership of SBLI over the last twenty years has left a mark on Boston,” said Jack Connors, former Chairman of Hill Holliday. “He has demonstrated true corporate responsibility and has been generous with his time and effort in service to making Boston a better place.”
“Bob Sheridan took a small, one-state life insurance company and over the course of 20 years transformed it into a major national competitor,” said SBLI Chairman of the Board Gerald Mulligan. “Through his leadership, he has left an indelible mark on SBLI and positioned the Company for continued growth and success well into the future.”
SBLI prospered financially under Sheridan, Mulligan said. Assets nearly tripled from $900 million in 1992 to $2.4 billion in 2011, and life insurance in force increased almost tenfold, from $12 billion to $114 billion. The Company also recorded a total of $146 million in net income and consistently maintained an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from A.M. Best over the 20-year period.
The company said that Christopher Pinkerton, 54, will join SBLI in September as president and CEO-elect and will succeed Sheridan upon his retirement. Pinkerton comes to SBLI from Toronto-based life insurer Foresters, where, as President of Foresters US, he oversaw life insurance sales across the United States. Following his retirement, the company said Sheridan will continue as a member of SBLI’s board of directors