My name is Estella Reyna Kierce and I was born in San Antonio, Texas. I attended the University of the Incarnate Word, where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. I have been married to Steiner Charles Kierce for 52 years and we have two children and two grandsons: Carolyn (Andy) Weiblen, Blane (13 years old) and Steiner (Diane) Carl Kierce, Steiner Caldwell (9 years old).

I was a schoolteacher in Alice, Texas, where my husband worked as a biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife. It was there that a State Farm agent introduced me to his manager. Little did I know that in the early ’80s, all of the large insurance companies were recruiting women. So in 1980, I became the first Hispanic female agent for State Farm in Texas, and we moved the family to Laredo where we knew no one, but I spoke Spanish. Remember, I had no sales experience except selling Girl Scout cookies at 50 cents a box.

While there, I was introduced to WLUC (Women Life Underwriters Conference – later WIFS) by State Farm agent Gayle Miller. What a blessing it was, since there were so few female insurance agents that I could talk to about the business. I was coming out of 15 years of teaching, not insurance. Plus, I had to learn all the insurance “lingo” in Spanish!

After four years of running a very successful agency in personal production in Laredo, Texas, I was promoted to management and we moved to San Antonio, my hometown. With this promotion, I became State Farm’s first female manager in Texas and joined 59 male managers. What an honor! (I have numerous stories to tell about my management days.)

After discovering that management was not for me, I moved back to personal production (excellent move), and 30 years later, I retired from State Farm. I enjoyed my career, but it was time to let our younger people start theirs.

I have seen a lot of changes in the insurance industry, especially for women. We always knew we could SELL if given the opportunity. The conferences are an excellent way to meet ladies with the same interests and goals. You make long-lasting friendships on the first day of the conferences. So much FUN and excellent speakers!

Early on, my husband and I attended all the conferences and really enjoyed them. I still mentor some State Farm agents, especially the new ones coming on board, even if it’s just a phone call to encourage them to NEVER GIVE UP!

It has been a great and exciting life of travel and meeting new friends that I never could have imagined as a schoolteacher. Financial rewards have been good, but the travel and the opportunity to meet such wonderful women has helped me broaden my life’s enjoyments. As an older Insurance lady, I can say life has been a great journey.

Estella Reyna Kierce served as National WIFS President in 2001. She and fellow past president Nancy Rash participated in the in the January 20 webinar "Looking Ahead With the Wisdom of the Ages."

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