Clinton — When Cindy Ringler and her two sisters were teenagers, their mother often followed the trio around the house toting a mini-recorder and jotting notes.
“I was the middle girl … and my mother was working on her master’s degree,” recalled Ringler, with a laugh. “We didn’t know she was writing a research paper on our behavior for her adolescent psychology class. Trust me, we gave her plenty of material with our teenage lingo and attitudes.”
Ringler, a State Farm Insurance agent in Clinton, spent most of her childhood in Biloxi — her dad, John Williams, was the athletic director and head football coach for Biloxi High School — and was living there when Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast in 1969.
“Our home was spared by the flooding, but we did have a large pine tree fall over the top of it,” she said. “I remember the devastation to the beautiful homes on the beach and the debris that was scattered like confetti. As an insurance agent in Mississippi now and a former resident of the Gulf Coast, it is difficult to listen to the stories from policyholders who have lost their homes and watch the destruction and suffering on television.
“I do take some comfort in knowing that my staff and I are working to assist those State Farm insureds that have had a loss, as well as those from out of town seeking assistance with their State Farm policies. The people that have been in my office from New Orleans, Slidell, Diamondhead, Gulfport, Biloxi, Waveland and other Louisiana and Mississippi coastal areas have been very gracious and appreciative of the assistance they have received from our community.”
Ringler’s family moved to Clinton when her father became Mississippi College’s (MC) head football coach and athletic director. Her mom, Norma Williams, taught English. After graduating from Clinton High School (CHS), she earned an undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology, with a minor in psychology, from MC in 1983. Throughout high school and college, Ringler was such a fixture on the cheerleading squad that her mother “used to tell people that I was majoring in cheerleading,” she joked.
Ringler’s entry into the insurance profession was a fluke. Her then-husband, Mike Godfrey, was working in the State Farm Insurance Company claims department when an agency manager in the Jackson area asked him if she might be interested in talking about a career as an agent.
Then a young mother of one, Ringler had continued her graduate studies — she earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Mississippi in 1987 — and completed her practice work at the Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson. She had been working as a speech-language pathologist for the Hinds County Public School System for seven years when she decided to visit with State Farm recruiters.
“I decided to go through the screening process and approximately four months later was chosen from a pool of candidates for an agency in Jackson,” said Ringler. “I’ve been an insurance agent with State Farm for 15 years now. Even though Mike and I divorced in 1990, we have remained friends and have jointly and consistently been active in raising Matthew, now in his junior year at the University of Southern Mississippi.”
Ringler remarried and her husband, Lance, works in the reinsurance business for Resolutions Intermediaries Inc.
“Being a State Farm Agent and a business owner has its challenges, but working for a company such as State Farm is very rewarding,” said Ringler. “My most challenging times have been during my last two pregnancies while working at State Farm. I was at my office when I went into labor with my daughters and I don’t think I really had a maternity leave. I would bring the baby to the office many days while I worked. I can confidently say that State Farm is a company that truly cares about its customers and the State Farm family.”
The couple’s two very active daughters keep the family on the road after working hours. Lindy, 13, is a cheerleader and squad captain at Clinton Junior High, a member of the Clinton Futbol Club select soccer team and the National Junior Honor Society. Regan, eight, enjoys tennis, dance, soccer and tumbling, and was named 2005 Petite Miss Clinton. When her son was a student at CHS, he was a singer and dancer in the Attache Show Choir. The family traveled to New York, Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, Birmingham and Indianapolis to watch the group perform. Now a Leadership Scholarship and honor student at Southern Miss, her son is heavily involved in student government affairs.
“Watching these accomplishments makes it well worth my while to juggle my career and my children’s activities,” said Ringler. “My greatest challenge is in meeting my responsibility to my family and taking care of my customers in an efficient and friendly manner. I believe that excellent customer service is vital to a successful business.”
Ringler credits much of the agency’s success to her office manager, Teresa Gunn of Raymond, an 11-year company veteran and a licensed staff member.
“Teresa knows all of my customers and handles their needs with a genuine caring attitude,” said Ringler. “My policyholders are always letting me know just how efficient she is. She knows them well and knows much about their families. Lance works out of an office in our home and plays a very important role in helping manage our home life and the children’s schedules. He helps coach my younger daughter’s soccer team. We basically work during the day at our careers and at night with homework, soccer practice, tennis, dance.”
Her father, whom many have described as a hard working, competitive Type A personality, has inspired Ringler. “He had a lot of success in his football career,” she said. “He still has reunions at his home for his former football players from Mississippi College and is still a hard worker. If anyone needs help moving or doing yard work, he’ll be there. He’s currently been helping church members with clean-up from Hurricane Katrina.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.