John William Gunn

President: 1940-1947 and 1957-1963

Born on Aug. 27, 1903, John William Gunn was the fifth child of John A. Gunn and Carolyn Robb Gunn. Gunn grew up in the Des Moines area, graduating from West High School in 1920. He worked as a paper carrier, soda jerk, hotel clerk, warehouse laborer, cattle tender on a trans-Atlantic boat, stenographer for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and EMC policy writer and errand boy during high school and college.

Gunn graduated from the University of Michigan in 1925 and continued working at EMC. He moved from stenographer, to sales, to sales manager in 1928 and was elected to the board in 1930. Gunn was elected president upon the request of his father, John A. Gunn, who resigned due to ill health in 1940. In 1941, John W. initiated the Company Digest, an encyclopedia of services, company organization and underwriting guidelines. Employees and agents added material to the Digest as changes occurred.

In 1947, Gunn stepped down as president to care for his daughter Madge Carolyn “Twink” who suffered from cerebral palsy. He remained chairman/treasurer, while John F. Hynes assumed the presidency. John W. Gunn returned as president/treasurer in 1957, when Hynes reached retirement age and became chairman. The careers of John W. Gunn and John F. Hynes were complementary, shepherding the company through the big events of war, geographical expansion and the development of multiple lines of insurance. In 1958, Gunn was instrumental in creating EMCASCO, a wholly-owned subsidiary stock company, which allowed writing of low-risk personal lines at preferred rates. Gunn stepped down in 1963 to make way for the presidency of Robb Kelley.