Few people have made a greater – or more generous – contribution to their community, state and profession than Allan B. Head, who died February 17.
Allan was executive director of the N.C. Bar Association from 1981 until his retirement in 2016 – making him one of the longest-serving bar leaders in the country.
Here at Lawyers Mutual – where he was a close friend and trusted adviser – his legacy lives on.
“Allan was there for us from the start,” said Lawyers Mutual president Dan Zureich. “He was at the NCBA when we were just an idea over 40 years ago, and he’s been an important part of Lawyers Mutual ever since. He shared our vision of serving North Carolina lawyers. All of us will miss him.”
In 1984 Allan was instrumental in launching Lawyers Insurance Agency, a subsidiary of Lawyers Mutual that offers health coverage and other insurance services to lawyers statewide. Lawyers Insurance is now the official agency of the NCBA.
“Allan was a force of nature, always looking for ways to improve the lives of NC lawyers,” said Lawyers Mutual board chairman and former NCBA president Gray Wilson. “A great example is the Health Benefit Trust. He shared our desire to expand how we can help North Carolina lawyers, firms and families. He helped make that happen.”
He Loved the Deacons
Allan Head lived and worked according to a simple motto: leave your campsite better than you find it.
“He led by example,” said NCBA President Caryn McNeill. “The success of the North Carolina Bar Association is directly attributable to his vision and the degree to which he sincerely cared about our members and staff. He also led with joy, affirming others and celebrating our good fortune at having the opportunity to work together.”
A native of Georgia, he graduated from Wake Forest University in 1966 – where he was a track star – and Wake Forest School of Law in 1969. He loved sports, especially distance running, and he loved his Deacons. For years he was a stadium announcer for Wake Forest University (and Broughton High School) football games. In 2016, he received the Pete Moffitt Courage Award, presented to a Wake Forest alumnus who stands strong in the face of adversity.
After graduation from law school, he served four years in the military before joining the staff of the N.C. Bar Association – first as executive secretary, then becoming director in 1981.
During his 43 years at the NCBA, he transformed it into a national leader and a model for other states. He pioneered the expansion of N.C. Bar Foundation and CLE offerings, established the NCBF Endowment, implemented numerous practice sections, added Senior Lawyers and Paralegal Divisions and shepherded the construction of the N.C. Bar Center in Cary. He was also an officer of the Wake County Bar Association and he served on the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.
In 2010, the National Association of Bar Executives gave him its highest honor: the Bolton Award.
Allan Head’s good deeds extended far beyond the legal profession. He served on the board of directors for YMCA of the USA and was president of YMCA of the Triangle. He chaired the Camp Kanata (YMCA) Advisory Board. For more than 20 years he volunteered with the Presbyterian Church’s Appalachian Service Project, leading high school mission trips to impoverished regions of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Along the way, he received many awards and accolades, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, presented by Gov. Pat McCrory at the NCBA Annual Meeting (2015), the N.C. State Bar’s Distinguished Service Award (2015), and the James Iredell Award (2015).
But it’s likely that no recognition made him any prouder than being named Father of the Year in 2014.
Allan B. Head was 73 years old. He is survived by Patti Head, his wife of more than 50 years, as well as three children and eight grand-children.
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.