Frederick Durst has worked as an insurance agent in Waunakee since the mid-1980s. Now, after 35 years in the business, Durst has decided to part ways with the profession.
Durst announced his retirement from American Family Insurance in early January.
“Really, the last year, I was part time anyway,” Durst said. “My staff was great, and I probably worked two or three days a week over the last year just trying to ween myself into retirement.”
Durst joined American Family Insurance at the age of 23 as an underwriter. The year was 1978 and Durst had just graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in biology. Like other college students, Durst was looking for summer work to pay the bills and save up some money.
Luckily for Durst, his family’s insurance agent knew about an opening within his company.
“Paul Marty was his name,” Durst said. “And Paul and I were good friends. We shared some common interests in hunting and fishing and stuff. So I talked to him a lot. And I just stopped in his office one day that summer, in 1978, and said, ‘I’m looking for a job.’”
Marty arranged an interview with the manager of his department, and Durst was hired before he even had a chance to fill out the application. The job was located in the company’s corporate office.
“Times were different back then,” Durst said.
Durst worked as an underwriter for the next six years until Waunakee’s previous insurance advisor Bob Hoskins took a sales-manager job and the agent position opened up in Waunakee.
“Bob approached me and asked if I’d be interested in that position,” Durst said, “in taking over his spot. And I thought about it a little bit, and my wife and I talked about it. And we thought, ‘Yeah. That’d be a good move for us.’ Thirty-six years later, here we are.”
Durst served as Waunakee’s trusted insurance advisor from 1984 until his last day at the office on Dec. 31.
Now officially retired, Durst said he hopes to spend more time outside and with his family.
“We have some land, and we have some horses and cattle,” Durst said. “And we have another farm out by Spring Green, so I spend a lot of time out there, kind of putzing around and stuff. I’m kind of an outdoors guy. I fish, and I hunt, and I travel to different parts of the country for hunting. So I’m not bored; I’ll tell you that.”
Replacing Durst is DeForest agent Katy Lea, who will now work at both locations.
“I’ve always been fond of this community and have hoped for the opportunity to be the local agent,” Lea stated in a recent welcome letter. “My husband, Tom, and daughter, Hayden, and I look forward to getting more visible and active in the Waunakee community.”