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BLOOMINGTON - A high-ranking, high-profile executive is retiring from State Farm Insurance Cos., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ed Rust Jr. announced Tuesday.

Jack North, senior executive vice president, plans to retire in September after 26 years with the Bloomington-based insurer. He joined State Farm as an agent in Pennsylvania in 1981. Today, he's No. 6 on the company payroll, earning $2.6 million in 2006, including a $2 million bonus, according to records filed with the state.

"I feel so blessed to be associated with State Farm," said North, who turns 60 in August. "They've given me a great opportunity. They've allowed me to be myself. They've never asked me to do anything against my own strong moral convictions."

North started with State Farm in 1981 as an agent in Evans City, Pa. He was named executive assistant-agency at corporate in 1992; deputy regional vice president at the Illinois Regional office in 1993; and regional vice president in Illinois in 1994. He was named senior vice president in 1998 and has been a senior executive vice president since 2001.

At times during his 25 years at State Farm, North found himself in the national spotlight.

He was interviewed on NBC's "Dateline" in 2000 during an investigation of State Farm's handling of medical claims following auto accidents. The report alleged that an outside medical-review company slanted injury reports in State Farm's favor.

North also served as a spokesman during a $1.2 billion lawsuit involving the company's use of generic auto parts in accident repairs. Plaintiffs claimed State Farm should use manufacturer parts. The story gained national attention. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in State Farm's favor.

North, who's contemplated retirement for the past three months, doesn't have firm plans but said he expects to remain involved in the community. He led Illinois State University's "Redefining Normal" fund-raising campaign several years ago and has been involved in a number of community organizations.

"I've always had a desire to write, and I've always had an interest in public speaking," North said, saying his age made the timing right to retire.

North is the second State Farm executive to leave recently.

Vincent J. Trosino Sr., president, vice chairman and chief operating officer, retired at the end of the year after 45 years with the company. Like North, Trosino got his start in Pennsylvania.

When Trosino retired, Rust became president. In anticipation of Trosino's retirement and leadership transition, Rust also named three other vice chairmen in 2004.

State Farm spokesman Phil Supple did not know how North's position and duties will be filled.

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