JoAnne Murray, Melding Business and Community Service

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JoAnne Murray with her business partner, Ed Schultz

In 1974 JoAnne Murray moved from Oneonta, New York to be closer to her home town of Suffern in Rockland County. She had a family, needed to work and took a position at the Allan M.

Block Agency as Mr. Block’s secretary. In remembering him Ms. Murray said, “Allan Block was the coolest guy. He was absolutely brilliant, and his marketing techniques were so far ahead of anyone else, that mentoring with him taught me the best about the insurance business and marketing it. He was literally 25 years ahead of his time.”

Mr. Block would take JoAnne Murray to every insurance event and every political event as well. A Tarrytown resident, Mr. Block maintained a high visibility and his energy was contagious. “He was definitely a Type A personality,” she noted. He directed Ms. Murray towards getting her insurance license and she grew to enjoy sales in large part, due to his incredible drive. In 1981 at the age of fifty-three Mr. Block suffered a heart attack that proved fatal. The Agency was guided by Allan’s wife Barbara, however, unlike her husband, Mrs. Block did not seek nor was she comfortable in the extroverted world of sales and marketing. When she died in 1991, it was a natural progression for JoAnne Murray and Ed Schultz, who also worked at the Agency, to take over and continue the day-to-day operations of the Agency. Mr. Schultz became responsible for the “commercial line” of insurance products offered to businesses large and small, while JoAnne Murray took over the “personal line” which included life, home, auto and other types of individual insurance.

As an Independent Insurance Broker, the Allan M. Block Agency offers the products of Met Life, Chubb, Hartford, Travelers Insurance and many others. “We represent twelve major companies. I tell my sales people that if we can’t write the policy nobody can, because we work with all the major companies,” Ms. Murray said. In addition to their affiliation with the major players in the world of insurance, the partnership that exists between Ed and JoAnne is a strong one. The two complement each other and they have, for the past fifteen years, supported each other in the growth of their business and the community in which they work.
In talking about the role a successful business plays in community service, JoAnne Murray was quick to cite both Allan and Barbara Block as being very involved in Tarrytown and neighboring villages. “I always say that Allan Block taught me the business and Barbara Block taught me compassion. If somebody walked in off the street and needed help or a place to live, Barbara Block was there for them. She had a heart that was unbelievable. I just admired them both so much that I continued what they started,” she said. Both JoAnne Murray and her partner Ed Schultz realize that they are successful because of the community and because of this they need to give back to the community. For Ms. Murray that translates to being the Vice President of the Sleepy Hollow Chamber of Commerce, a past president of the Rotary and still a very active member, a Board member for Kendal-on-Hudson, an advisor to the Music Hall and to the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow Arts Council. In Irvington she is active with the Chamber of Commerce and was their treasurer until last year. She is also a committee member for the Multiple Sclerosis swim across the Hudson. “My Mom has MS and this volunteer work has a special meaning for me,” she added. Ms. Murray is also a committee member for the “Leukemia Light the Night Walk,” as a result of her daughter being a leukemia survivor. To round out the week, she is the treasurer of her church in Rockland County.

When asked about her philosophy of life her response was quite simple as is the way of truth. She answered, “To be a good person. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. It’s one of the things I have always said to my children and have always tried to live by.” With three children and four grandchildren that are her “pride and joy” that philosophy of goodness seems destined to endure.

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About the Author: Robert Bonvento