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Juan F. Punchin

Died: November 15, 2017

How does one summarize 50 years of one’s life in 500 words or less? (That’s only 10 words per year — hardly enough words to make one complete sentence!). Well, here goes.

After graduating from Yale I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1967-69) and obtained an M.A. in Mathematics. While there, I discovered the field of Actuarial Science, which was integrated within the Math Department. I eventually completed the professional requirements to become a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

In the Fall of 1969 I went to work for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife), in New York City. I spent my career of over 30 years with the company, serving in various capacities, ranging from Actuary to Corporate Strategic Planner. In the late 80s, I was tapped to go abroad to help establish MetLife’s international operations in various countries. My first assignment was in Spain, followed by Mexico, and then Argentina. From Argentina, we also branched out to Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile. Each assignment lasted about three years. The operations in each country were primarily in the form of joint venture subsidiaries with strong local partners from the financial sector. I served as the chief financial officer of each country’s operations.

My job also involved the management and training of the foreign actuaries and other financial personnel. In many ways, I found this training and teaching aspect of my job to be the most gratifying and rewarding part. In the late 90s, I returned to headquarters in New York City. There, I continued in the international area, traveling extensively in Latin America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region, exploring mergers and acquisitions, and developing training programs for our foreign personnel. At the end of 2001, I opted for early retirement, which has allowed me to pursue many interests. (I now ask myself, how did I ever find time to work?!).

As to my personal life, in 1975 I met my life-long partner, Robert N. White (Harvard ’50). We enjoyed a wonderful life together for 32 years, until his passing in 2006. I have recently been blessed with a new partner, James Morello. Robert and I shared the love of travel. We learned much about and were much enriched by other cultures. He was able to accompany me on my international assignments, and our travels in Spain resulted in a book by him entitled A River in Spain: Discovering the Duero Valley in Old Castile. This is a book for the inquisitive traveler covering the Duero region’s rich Romanesque, Muslim, Gothic, and Renaissance legacies.

In closing, I want to acknowledge a big debt of gratitude to Yale. Fifty four years ago, Yale gave a youngster from Peru, from a Chinese immigrant family of modest means, the opportunity to realize his dreams by offering him admission and a full scholarship. The challenging environment at Yale, and the wonderful social experience on campus, prepared me well to face the future with hope, and to build a fulfilling life and career. So thank you, Yale!