Wendy Waugaman, the former chief executive officer of American Equity Investment Life Holding Co., has died after struggling with cancer, the company said.
Waugaman, 51, died June 18, John Matovina, who was named interim CEO of the West Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer this month, said in an interview yesterday.
She joined in 1999 as chief financial officer and general counsel and became CEO on Jan. 1, 2009. The firm advanced 50 percent in New York trading since she took over through June 7, compared with the 52 percent gain of the Russell 2000 Index.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our respected colleague and friend,” American Equity Chairman David Noble said in a statement yesterday. “Wendy was dedicated to the success of American Equity and an industry leader in the fixed index annuity business.”
The insurer said June 8 that Waugaman was going on medical leave and that Matovina, who was serving as CFO, would take the interim CEO post. The Business Record, an Iowa newspaper, named Waugaman to its Women of Influence list in 2011.
“To succeed, you have to have passion,” Waugaman said in an interview posted by the publication. “That’s really passion for people, it’s passion for solving problems and it’s passion for climbing mountains of all kinds.”
Waugaman worked as outside corporate counsel for American Equity since 1995, when the firm was founded. She graduated from Drake University and received a law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School.
She was president of the Des Moines Metro Opera Foundation board of trustees and served on the board of Buena Vista University, according to her biography on the insurer’s website.