In the 1960s when State Farm Insurance executive Thomas C. Morrill first served as chairman of the Institute's board of directors, this organization was a pass-through for the industry to fund state highway safety programs. Morrill and others saw a brighter future, hired Dr. William Haddon Jr., as president in 1969, and reorganized the Institute into a research and communications group.
Now the Institute follows the comprehensive research approach established by Dr. Haddon, under the direction of Morrill and other board members.
During Morrill's second term as chairman of the Institute in 1970, he addressed insurance executives at the Economic Club of Detroit, voicing how the interests of the industry coincide with society's interest in reducing crash injuries and other losses: "The motivation is reduction in the insurance costs of your customers and ours through the mitigation of crashes and their consequences. ... The total harmony of insurer and consumer interest in crash loss reduction justifies the effort."
Morrill was born in 1909. After attending Northwestern University and Central College, he joined State Farm in 1950 and was named vice president two years later. He served on the Institute's board of directors for 19 years, retiring in 1978. He retired from State Farm in 1991. Thomas Morrill died in Peoria, Ariz., on March 3.
"He will be remembered by all of us at the Institute and others in the highway safety community as a pioneer who helped to establish a scientific approach to reducing injuries and property damage losses resulting from crashes," says Institute president Adrian Lund.