Heritage Server > Our People > James F. Crafts


James F. Crafts was born in East Orange, New Jersey, in 1899. After graduating from high school, he began working in the brokerage and reinsurance department of Queen Insurance Company in New York. Five years later, he was appointed special agent in New Jersey, and was later transferred to western New York. In 1928, he was elected assistant secretary of Queen Insurance Company.

Crafts joined Fireman’s Fund in 1930 as the assistant manager of the Eastern Department in Boston, Massachusetts. Eight years later, he became the manager of the Eastern Department, and in 1941 was elected a vice president of the three insurance companies of Fireman’s Group. He advanced to second vice president the next year and was elected first vice president eight months later. He became president of Fireman’s Fund in 1946. At the time of his election, he was the youngest man ever to become the head of a national group of property and liability insurance companies.

During his career as president and later as chief executive and chairman of the executive committee, Crafts was active in a number of professional, civic, and recreational organizations. In 1949, he was elected treasurer of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the next year he was elected a member of the board of directors of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He served on the executive committee of the National Board of Fire Underwriters and the Foreign Insurance Association. He also served as president of the California Insurance Federation.

Crafts served as a director of the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the American Express Company. He was a member of the executive committee of Stanford Research Institute and the National Safety Council. He served as a trustee of Stanford University and Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. In the interests of insurance, Crafts traveled to more than eighty countries during his long career with the Fireman’s Fund.

Crafts was an avid golfer, and president of the San Francisco Golf Club. His other hobbies included fishing, badminton, bridge and dominoes. He was married for 55 years to the former Marion B. Oliver, with whom he had four children.

Crafts retired from the executive committee of Fireman’s Fund in 1967, and he died on May 27, 1980, after a short illness. Of James Craft, the Fireman’s Fund Board of Directors noted, "No man can excel his faith in our country and in his strong belief that the opportunities inherent in our private enterprise system are unlimited. Besides, he loves the business with which he has always been associated. And he is dedicated to Fireman’s Fund. His enthusiasm for all three is unbounded."

From biographical notes and obituaries in the Fireman’s Fund Archives [01-03-00-007-0002-0129]


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