American Equity Investment Life Holding Co. announced that Harley A. Whitfield Sr., a long-serving and respected independent member of the company's board of directors, died Monday after a brief illness. Whitfield had served as a director since 1996 and was a member of American Equity's Audit and Nominating and Corporate Governance committees. "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague and friend," American Equity Chairman David Noble said in a statement. "Harley's sound judgment and wealth of experience will be missed by his fellow directors, management and employees. In addition to his invaluable service to the company, he was a great lawyer and supporter of the community. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends."