Homesteaders Life Co.'s president, Graham Cook, will retire on Friday after nearly 50 years with the West Des Moines insurance company. Cook, who began his career as a part-time employee in the company's print shop while a Drake University student, managed nearly every functional area of the company prior to being named president in 1995 and chairman in 1999.

Under Cook's leadership, Homesteaders' assets increased from $173 million to $2.3 billion, with its surplus growing from $7.7 million to $149.6 million. He was elected to the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame in 2010 in recognition of a career that influenced the development of the pre-need insurance funding industry and the funeral profession in general.


Stephen Lang, currently Homesteaders' chief operating officer, will succeed Cook as part of a previously announced succession plan approved by the company's board of directors last year. Cook will remain chairman of Homesteaders through February 2015.


"Steve and I have worked closely for the last five years to make sure Homesteaders is well-positioned to maintain its place as a market leader," Cook said in a press release. "I am confident that Steve's leadership and the plans put in place by the entire senior management team will ensure the company's success long into the future."


Lang joined Homesteaders as executive vice president in 2008, overseeing the company's sales, marketing and customer service departments. He was named chief operating officer in March 2010.


"My focus will be on maintaining our commitment to funeral home owners and to our partners," Lang said. "As part of this commitment, we will continue to provide great products and services while continuing to improve our financial security. We will keep our promises to all of our stakeholders now and in the future."


Lang is a respected veteran of the funeral funding industry. He was an executive of Forethought Financial Services for 20 years, serving as CEO from 2001 until the company's sale in 2006. Immediately prior to joining Homesteaders, he owned an executive recruiting company.