By Debra Davis
Most farmers know a good investment when they see it. Fertile land, quality seeds, good equipment and genetically superior livestock all contribute to future success.
Eighty-seven-year-old Philip Martin practiced all those things during his career, and his Coffee County farm near Enterprise was successful. But an investment made off the farm generates dividends that are especially meaningful, he said.
“I remember my local agent, (the late) Ed Donaldson, told Mr. Ed Lowder (Alfa’s first executive vice president) if he’d let him sell the first new life policy, he would support the plan to sell life insurance,” Martin said. “Mr. Donaldson sold that $25,000-policy to me, and I’ve never regretted it. I get a dividend check from it every year.”
Alfa previously sold life insurance policies for other companies but began selling its own life policies in 1971. Martin’s policy, Number L 001, is among 301,361 policies issued by Alfa Life Co., totaling nearly $31.5 billion in force.
Martin was 37 on Dec. 2, 1971, when he bought the Alfa life policy. He said he didn’t realize the significance of the decision for several decades, joking that he’s in no hurry to collect on the policy.
The purchase of that first life insurance policy is special to Martin and his wife, Charlene. It represents hundreds of fond memories and experiences they’ve had with Alfa and the Alabama Farmers Federation.
“I got involved in the Alabama Farmers Federation right after I returned home from college,” said Martin, who lives a quarter mile from his childhood home south of Enterprise. “It wasn’t long before folks on the county board of directors asked me to join. I knew it was an organization with a strong group of dairymen who were politically active. They could get things done, not to mention the organization represented all the other farmers, too. This organization helped give me and all the farmers a voice.”
Martin has been a leader in the organization for years, serving as Coffee County Farmers Federation president from 1967 to 1998.
He served two terms as a state board member for Alabama Farm Bureau, which eventually became the Alabama Farmers Federation. His first term was 1969-1971; his second was 1998-2003.
Martin retired in 2004 after more than 30 years as a dairyman, where he milked cows by hand and later with modern machinery. He’s seen a lot of changes in agriculture and in the insurance industry.
“Alfa is still a great company today because of the great agents and employees it has and because of the farmers who run the company,” Martin said. “It is still a company that is run by people who live in our communities, who worship and raise their families in Alabama. That makes Alfa special.”
The Martins still live on their farm on the outskirts of Enterprise with their son, Edwin. Their nephew raises beef cattle in the fields near their home. Daughter Anne Marie Bliss and her husband live in Texas with the Martins’ four grandchildren.
Alfa President Jimmy Parnell said when he joined the Federation as a young man, it was men like Martin who encouraged him to take a leadership role.
“For 100 years, the Alabama Farmers Federation has been led by hardworking men and women committed to improving life for people in their communities,” Parnell said. “Philip Martin embodies our core values of faith, family, community and integrity. As we celebrate our centennial and Alfa’s 75th anniversary, it’s only fitting that our first life insurance policy be held by a farmer like Mr. Martin.”
For information about Alfa life insurance or to find a local agent, visit AlfaInsurance.com.