A Farewell to Bob Hyle, Reporter, Industry Colleague, Friend

Known and highly esteemed by many in the insurance technology space for his outstanding work at TechDecisions, PropertyCasualty360 and ITA Pro, Robert Regis Hyle passed away Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.

(Photo credit: Masaki Ikeda.)

Yesterday we learned of the passing of our esteemed colleague Robert Regis Hyle, known to everybody as Bob. The insurance technology realm is a small world, and the cadre of journalists who cover it regularly is smaller still. With Bob’s passing last Saturday, it feels even smaller and emptier. Much as we journalists all tried to do our best and perform well against our competitors over the years, rivalry among the different publications was never intense—partly because we were so few, but mostly because everybody was so friendly. Nobody exemplified that tendency more than Bob.

Having started reporting on the insurance industry’s technology scene in 1999, Bob interviewed a great many insurance executives over the years. He also worked regularly with all the analysts, and of course with countless representatives of the various software, hardware and services companies who are suppliers to the industry. Many, many people had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Bob, and they will miss him because of the kind of person he was.

Robert Regis Hyle, 1951-2017.

Jim Daggett, Bob’s business partner at the Insurance Technology Association (ITA), described Bob as a “gentle giant.” At first sight, one noticed Bob’s imposing height and a certain distinguished demeanor. As the conversation continued, he revealed himself as a very intelligent and knowledgeable journalist, but also as a genial, considerate, even avuncular fellow. Not given to dark suits and power ties, Bob came across more like a friendly professor than the curious and energetic journalist he was. Anyone questioning that latter characterization need only review Bob’s immense output over the years.

If you had the opportunity to kick back with Bob, you experienced Robert Regis Hyle the keen observer and wry humorist. Bob knew people, he knew the industry and he had some sharp—though never ungenerous—observations. Because of his deep experience, he had great stories too.

Trade journalists often start their careers fresh out of college, some have writing or editorial experience from other fields, such as marketing and public relations. Bob was the classic Midwestern newspaper man type. That wasn’t just style. Bob began his career in local news. And despite being one of the most prolific reporters in the insurance technology space, Bob also reported on local events and sports where he lived, on the Indiana/Ohio border. He owned the Harrison Record newspaper, and wrote for the Harrison Press for over three decades.

Bob’s local reporting was just one of the ways he showed that he was his own man. Bob established his reputation as creative competent journalist at the top of his niche, successful because he understood the material and knew how to manage confidences. He distinguished himself at a time when the publishing industry was feeling increasing pressure and editors were called upon to do more and more. Bob began his insurance-related career as editor of Ohio Underwriter, and became an insurance technology writer when he joined National Underwriter’s TechDecisions publication. His work continued there when the publication rebranded as PropertyCasualty360.com. He left his post as Editor-in-Chief there to co-found ITA with Jim Daggett in 2013. Bob was ITA’s content guy, and Editor-in-Chief of ITA Pro magazine.

It was gratifying to see Bob crown his career as truly independent journalist and publisher in our field. But it was gratifying because Bob was such a success as a human being. He leaves us a dear friend and colleague, and also as a beloved husband, father and grandfather.

I include two comments below, one from Jennifer Overhulse, a colleague of Bob’s on the marketing/communications side of the industry, and a brief excerpt from the farewell notice that Jim Daggett published yesterday, with Jim’s kind permission.

“I worked in the office next door to Bob Hyle at National Underwriter for years, and then continued to work with him after we both moved on from there, him to ITA and me to St. Nick Media,” Jennifer recalls. “Bob was a reliable standard in the industry, and a wordsmith workhorse. He was also one of the nicest, most genuine, down to earth people I have ever met. I will always remember the good times, the laughs, and the friendship. My heart goes out to his wife, Sue, and the rest of the Hyle family. Bob will be missed.”

Jim Daggett wrote, in language that will resonate for many, “I will miss Bob, his kind heart, his quick wit, his happy-go-lucky demeanor, professionalism, and his talent as a journalist. I could, obviously, fill several more pages, but will suffice it to say I would like to sincerely thank him for all of his service and hard work over the years, but most of all for his friendship.”

Friends of Bob can read other impressions and perhaps share their own at a memorial page linked here.

 

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For over a decade he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

Comments (8)

  1. Anthony, your tribute and kind words about Bob brought back to me so many positive memories of him personally. Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with him on a few articles for his various publications. Not once did I ever hear him say anything negative about anyone or about any company. He always kept focused on what his readers wanted – objective, candid reporting of current and emerging technologies and issues impacting the industry. He was truly an inspiration for me and I will miss seeing him at industry events.

  2. Anthony – You captured the spirit of a great journalist and simply a great person. I remember always being happy to talk with Bob and to learn his opinion of the topic of the day in the world of insurance. He will be missed.

  3. Bob was one of the good guys and glad I had the opportunity to work with him. He will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends.

  4. Thank you for such a thoughtful piece on such a wonderful person. I had limited contact with Bob over the years, but I knew of his professionalism, his expertise, and heard many testimonies about his character. We will miss his contributions and his presence. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends and his close colleagues.

  5. What a beautiful tribute, Anthony. Well done and well deserved! I am confident the story would have met Bob’s high editorial standards. Bob will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

  6. I was shocked and so saddened to hear about the loss of this true gentleman and outstanding journalist. I worked with Bob and was briefly his boss when I was P&C Editor in Chief at National Underwriter, supervising Tech Decisions, and what a pleasure and privilege it was. I also had the tables turned, as Bob interviewed me a number of times for stories in ITA Pro. His pieces were always polished and professional. Thank you so much for sharing what so many of his colleagues, friends, and family thought of this truly remarkable person.

  7. I’m so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. This was wonderfully written tribute to him about his legacy in our industry. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. May he Rest In Peace.

  8. I’m sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. I remember enjoying working with him during the insurance technology part of my career. My condolences to his family and friends. Well written, Anthony.

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