Note: In recognition of Women’s History Month, we’re excited to share this piece about Marie Schauer’s contributions to the legacy of Schauer Group.
When Marie Schauer’s husband died unexpectedly in 1945, she stepped in and kept his insurance agency running.
Without her, Schauer Group would not have the 104-year legacy it has today.
“Mother was the right person at the time,” said Tom Schauer, Marie’s son and the second-generation leader of Schauer Group. “She didn’t take long to pick it up.”
Marie’s husband, Alfred Schauer, founded Schauer Group in 1919 as Schauer & Reed Insurance Agency. At that time, insurance agents would go into the office during the day and put together policies, and in the evenings, they would make house calls. Alfred had lost his eyesight, so Marie would drive him to the office each morning and then out to clients’ homes in the evenings.
Alfred died in 1945, when Tom was a senior at McKinley High School. Marie was smart – and she needed an income – so, at the suggestion of the family’s attorney, she took over the business while Tom attended The Ohio State University and served in the U.S. Navy.
Marie wasn’t an insurance expert, but she had learned Alfred’s routines and knew the ins and outs of the company. She also had the help of Iova Miller – the agency’s remaining staff member and a licensed insurance agent. Together, the two women ran the business until Tom began his career in 1950.
Even in the 1940s, it was not unusual for women to head insurance agencies, Tom said. The company belonged to an association for agents that had about 50 member agencies in the Akron-Canton area, and at least three of those agencies were owned by women. And generally, the internal operations in most offices were handled by women, too.
In 1953, Tom bought the business from his mother and started to grow the company into one of the largest independent risk management advisory firms in the state. Ownership of the firm eventually was passed onto Tom’s sons and today is led by the fourth generation of the Schauer family.
Tom is thankful to his mother for holding the business together for him until he was ready and for playing a key role in the company’s stability and longevity.
“Mother ran it successfully,” he said.