Fifty years. In life, marriage and career, the number is a milestone.

This weekend includes one such date for Garry Carnes of Grove.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, he will celebrate his 50th anniversary with Reserve National Insurance Company, a Kemper Life & Health Company.

It's a career which began when, at the age of 26 he decided to follow in the footsteps of his step-father, H.L. Stevenson into the insurance field.

Before this venture, Carnes was working as a dairy farmer.

"I really had no idea what I was getting into," Carnes said, recalling the decision which changed the course of his life. "It was scary."

But for Carnes it was soon apparent he was destined to be in a career which let him interact with people.

"I got to get out, travel and make a little more income," Carnes said with a grin. "Meeting people was a blast."

In the early days, Carnes said he enjoyed the travel immensely. Working with people taught him to have a positive attitude and feel better about himself.

It also gave him a chance to help people meet their health care needs.

"I was always helping somebody," Carnes said. 

Early lessons

Carnes credits the work ethic he developed in the early years, for his success.

“I started seeing 20 households per week," Carnes said. "I still do the same today and sure enjoy what I do. I always have a goal.”

Before joining the Reserve National team in Tulsa, Carnes assisted the company with training and opened new offices in Phoenix, Arizona and Orlando, Florida.

During those years, Carnes won several awards including Manager of the Year twice, Runner- Up Manager of the Year twice, and was promoted to Manager of the Tulsa office in 2000.

In 2007, Carnes retired from his management position, but remained an agent who continues to earn awards.

Chris Ritchie, Carnes former manager at the Tulsa office, said that Carnes likes to quote Reserve National’s founder, John Gammill.

“A great agent is an agent who goes on one or two more appointments after the mood has left him.” Ritchie said, “I have never met an agent who is better described by that quote than Garry Carnes.”

A lifetime career

Carnes credits the family atmosphere, found at Reserve National Insurance Company for his success. 

He said relationships built with Gammill, and then later other members of the Cole family, helped solidify his standing in the company.

"I've always had good people to work for," Carnes said. 

Kemp Cole, senior vice president marketing and agency director for Reserve National said CArnes has been a valued family friend to not only himself, but also to his father, Joe, his uncle Roger.

"Garry has helped hundreds of agents learn the insurance business," Kemp Cole said. "He is a tireless, dedicated worker who truly enjoys his job and is always good for a laugh.”

Ultimately, Carnes said he still enjoys the freedom and flexibility of being an agent and values the family culture of his employer especially the camaraderie with other agents during conferences.

He said the support of his wife, Carmen, has also made a difference as he continues to serve as an agent.

"I love it," Carnes said. "I just love being in the business because I get to meet new people every day.

"It's a high for me to make sales. This is just a good product."