Henry Freudenburg

A Living Legacy

By Donna Gable Hatch

Placeholder imageIf you own or rent property, have a vehicle or boat, are a builder or have lived on Galveston Island for any period of time, you undoubtedly know the name Henry Freudenburg. For more than five decades, the man behind the Henry Freudenburg Insurance Agency, Inc. has been helping his community weather the ups and downs of life, helping to provide a safety net, and build for the future through a genuine dedication to serve and a firm commitment to competitive and fair rates.

The Henry Freudenburg Insurance Agency is considered the oldest insurance agency in Galveston, because it has been owned and continuously operated for 55 years by the same agent—a claim no other insurance agency on Galveston can make.

“I believe our success is tied directly to our commitment to offering personal service to every client,” says Freudenburg, who celebrated his 85th birthday on March 26. The still-active octogenarian began his career in the insurance industry in a small office on Victory Avenue. He was the lone employee.

His reputation as a being a man of his word, an honest and decent man who could be trusted to give people a fair shake, was the simple (but rare) ingredient that helped his company thrive. “My dad taught me by example what character really stood for; by always keeping his word,” Henry says.

He took the adage “your word is your bond” to heart. It is, after all, part of his DNA, as is the concept that a handshake was a commitment to do the hard work no matter what obstacles may block the path. 

Placeholder imageHenry maintains that with persistence, “You can, indeed, succeed. In any line of work, I believe the most successful people are the individuals who enjoy what they do and look forward to serving those they come in contact with every day.”

In 1965, Freudenburg was named “Rookie of the Year” for leading all 700 agents for the State of Texas. It was an honor beyond measure, he says. “I went on later in my career to become a member of the prestigious President’s Club for State Farm Insurance.”

The success afforded him by his thriving agency, coupled with his universally heralded sterling reputation, enabled the community giant to turn his talent to other projects. He served as Chairman of the City of Galveston Traffic Commission, Chairman of the Galveston Oktoberfest, and founding member of the Galveston Pro-Business Political Action Committee.

He also served as Chairman of the Coastal Windstorm Insurance Coalition and as Mayor of Galveston from 1996-1998, which he describes as “serving 60,000-plus citizens and representing the city that welcomed my forefathers in the 1800s.”

Henry formed a long-lasting bond with Texas Senator Aaron Robert “Babe” Schwartz, who served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1955 to 1959 and in the Texas Senate, District 17 from 1960 to 1981. “He was my political role model and mentor for some 60 years,” Henry says.

Placeholder image“Senator Schwartz was the ‘Grandfather of Windstorm Legislation’ for the Texas Gulf Coast, having passed the first windstorm Legislation after Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christ, Texas in August 1970. The legislation that he passed in 1971 guided all windstorm regulations until TX HB1900 replaced it in 2019.”

“Windstorm Insurance is a vital necessity for all citizens and businesses up and down the Gulf Coast of Texas,” he continues. “After a major hurricane named Carla hit the Galveston/Houston area (in 1961), several major insurance companies decided they no longer would write windstorm insurance in any of their policies.”

In 1972, Schwartz saw the need for a separate entity to provide windstorm insurance for the Texas coast. There began his interest in the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, but his favorite role was that of mayor of the Oleander City.

“My greatest achievement as mayor was changing the attitude of our city,” Henry says. “On election night, as my wife and I were driving home very late, she said, ‘Okay, now that you are elected, what are you going to do first?’”

Placeholder imageThe answer tumbled out without hesitation. “I said, ‘My first job will be to change the negative attitude of the city.’ Any questions concerning the city at that time were answered with, ‘No money’ or ‘We can’t.’ After six months and a change in city management the attitude began to change. As mayor, I used the local restaurants as an economic gage. Every dollar spent within our city usually changes hands seven times before leaving town,” he said.

“I always looked at helping the business climate improve so that everyone in the community can help improve the economic health of our city.”

After 55 years, this fourth generation Galvestonian remains his father’s son - a man with scruples, vision, compassion, and deep and abiding affection for his community. “I was the only son and I grew up in a very modest household. Because money was very scarce,” Freudenburg says. “I learned at an early age to appreciate hard work and what sharing and caring for one another really meant.”

Henry Freudenburg Insurance Agency, Inc.
Auto, Car, Home, Business, Trucking, and Restaurant
6202 Stewart Road