Tom Ingersoll, the most popular man in Realtydom

ThisMonth0807JULY 2008 -To REALTORS® he was “Our Tom.”

The first full-time staff hired by the National Association of Real Estate Boards, Tom Ingersoll served as Secretary (Executive Vice President today) from 1911 to 1922. Also referred to as “The most popular man in Realtydom,” everybody associated with the organization knew who Tom was.

It didn’t take him long to win over REALTORS®. Historian Pearl Janet Davies wrote of the 1913 Winnipeg Convention when “Ingersoll was carried around the hall on the shoulders of delegates. (He) had already become ‘dear old Tom.’” At that meeting the National Association’s president, Alexander Taylor, praised the hard-working secretary: “We have a man in this organization…whose heart throbs and beats with the work we are doing; who is giving his life, his fidelity, and his strength to the building of this organization. In referring to that man I do not believe I am obliged to use his name. You all know him (cries of ‘Ingersoll’).”

During Ingersoll’s stewardship he spent much time travelling the country, and the Association grew from 42 to 427 member boards. After eleven years with NAREB he left to become Secretary of the Los Angeles Realty Board, accepting “a notable increase in salary…and the opportunity at last to be at home with his family,” according to Davies.

Eleven years later in 1933, Ingersoll fell ill after returning from the National Convention in Chicago. He died at his ranch in La Habra Heights at age 62, with his wife and two sons at his bedside. In July of that year publications across the country gave REALTORS® the bad news.

Writing in 1955, Cleveland REALTOR® Raymond T. Cragin recalled Ingersoll, Taylor, and others from the early years. “The mainspring of NAREB during this period was Tom Ingersoll,” Cragin wrote. He was “a master…in the early promotion of the organization. In my book Tom Ingersoll was a great man.”

NAREB Executive Secretary Herbert U. Nelson remembered his predecessor as well. “Tom represented in a unique way the very life and spirit of the National Association. I think he was its real founder.”

  1. It is nice to know the great man of NAR. I am just a member for 3 years and this story touches me.