A. Haeworth Robertson (Haeworth) was Chief Actuary of the United States Social Security Administration from 1975 to 1978, the period during which attention was first directed toward the significant financial problems that lay ahead. He resigned shortly after the 1977 Amendments to Social Security were passed, believing he could more effectively provide the information necessary to bring about further rational change by working on the "outside."
In 1981 he completed his first book, "The Coming Revolution in Social Security," a comprehensive exposition on United States Social Security, its problems, and proposed reforms. During the following fifteen years he wrote and lectured widely, giving special emphasis to interpreting and clarifying the financial status of Social Security. He was Founder and President of The Retirement Policy Institute, Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit research and education organization devoted to the study of national retirement issues.
While Chief Actuary of Social Security, he received two awards-the Commissioner's Citation and the Arthur J. Altmeyer Award-for distinguished service in managing the affairs of his office and in explaining Social Security's financial complexities in an easy-to-understand way to the Administration, the Congress, and the public.
Mr. Robertson's actuarial career began in 1953 when, as an officer in the United States Air Force, he served with a special unit of the Department of Defense appointed to prepare an actuarial study of the military retirement system for the 83rd Congress. Since then his entire career was devoted to personal security programs of one kind or another. In addition to serving as Chief Actuary of Social Security, he worked 25 years as a consulting actuary dealing with private and public pension plans; five years as organizer and president of a life insurance company; and fifteen years as an international consultant on social insurance programs.
He spent much of his life traveling and working abroad. He started his international career in 1969 as volunteer consultant to State Insurance Corporation of Ghana, through the International Executive Service Corps. Subsequent work assignments, through the International Labor Office of the U.N., included assignments in Switzerland, Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Guyana, Barbados, and several other Caribbean countries.
Mr. Robertson was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 10, 1930 to the late Albert Haeworth and Bonnie Duckett Robertson. He attended Central High School, where he was President of Oklahoma County Junior Red Cross, President of his senior class, was awarded the Letzeiser Award for most outstanding senior boy, was a two-year basketball letterman, and was proud to be an Eagle Scout. In 1989 he received from the Oklahoma County Historical Society the Cardinal Service Award, recognizing outstanding alumni of Central High School. In 1977, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Central High School Alumni Association. Mr. Robertson received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma in 1951, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa, and his graduate degree in actuarial science from the University of Michigan in 1953.
He was a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries. He was also a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, the United Kingdom's Institute of Actuaries, the International Actuarial Association, the International Association of Consulting Actuaries, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. He served as a member of the Board of Governors and as a Vice President of the Society of Actuaries, and as a member of numerous committees and advisory groups dealing with social insurance and private and public employee pension plans. In 1984 he was selected for a 10-year term and named first chairman of the Department of Defense Retirement Board of Actuaries, a three-person board appointed by the President to oversee the financial operations of the United States military retirement system and report thereon to the President and Congress-a fitting appointment as this is the same retirement system with which he began his actuarial career in 1953. In May 2004 he received the Robert J. Meyers Public Service Award, one of the actuarial profession's highest honors, presented annually by the American Academy of Actuaries. In 2007 he received the Wynn Kent Public Communication Award, which is presented annually by The Actuarial Foundation. In 2007 he was also selected by the Society of Actuaries as an Actuarial Pioneer.
Mr. Robertson cherished his lifelong friendships. He embraced international travel, vacationing with family, trying new restaurants, and especially one-of-a-kind experiences: sailing to the polar ice cap, rafting the Colorado, hiking the Milford Track, soaring in a hot-air balloon. He made sure his family had access to a wealth of cultural and educational experiences. He enjoyed all things musical and theatrical, from opera to Shakespeare to Dixieland jazz. He continued his academic study through his later years, studying philosophy at St. John's College and teaching and mentoring actuarial students in China. After taking a course in creative writing he reinvented himself as a different kind of author, writing his autobiography and a series of mystery novels-with the actuary as hero. He continued to enjoy writing and the company of his monthly writer's group until the end of his life. Mr. Robertson is listed in "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who in the World." He was a member of the Cosmos Club (where he lived for 34 years), the Travelers' Century Club, and the Circumnavigators Club.
Haeworth Robertson passed away on March 7, 2017, in Wilmington, North Carolina at the age of 86. He is survived by his three children: Valerie Robertson (George Scheibner) of Wilmington, North Carolina; Alan Robertson of Willow, Alaska; and Mary Robertson, of Eugene, Oregon; his sister, Kay Ellen Sandridge (Ted), of Norman, Oklahoma, his niece Cheryl Sandridge, of Deckers, Colorado, his nephew Doug Sandridge (Stacey) of Golden, Colorado and their children, Chelsea, Brionna and Alex; and his college sweetheart, Mary Adeline Kissee Robertson.
Published in The Washington Post from Mar. 12 to Mar. 19, 2017