Robert Vanderbeek had a long and distinguished career of dedicated service to others at all levels of the credit union and cooperative movement. Until his retirement in 1990, he was president of the League Insurance Companies for 30 years, and since 1983 was also senior vice president of the CUNA Mutual Insurance Group. Under his stewardship, the League Insurance Companies grew from four employees to more than 400, assets from $1 million to $100 million and annual premium income from $1 million to more than $64 million. He is recognized nationally as an innovator in the direct marketing of low cost life insurance. He is also recognized for his pioneering efforts in the development of comprehensive no-fault automobile insurance in Michigan, now considered to be the best model for the nation.
Vanderbeek's interest, commitment and leadership in cooperative insurance development has extended to developing countries as well. He was a member of the Insurance Development Bureau of the International Cooperative Insurance Federation from 1965 to 1986, and chairman from 1980-1984. He was a leader in many insurance and cooperative organizations, including the Michigan Actuarial Society, Traffic Safety Association and the Livernois-Seven Mile Cooperative. In addition, he was a director of the National Cooperative Business Association for 27 years. Vanderbeek's vision and leadership set standards in the cooperative movement, and his positive impact on many organizations and individuals has been truly significant.