Tom O’Hara

In 1940, Thomas E. O’Hara (1915-2009) helped form a Detroit investment club to learn about stocks, coached by young broker George A. Nicholson, Jr. (1908-1996). In 1951, O’Hara and Nicholson started the National Association of Investment Clubs with three Detroit area clubs to teach people how to evaluate a company for possible investment. In 1958, O’Hara began working full time for NAIC, now Better Investing.

During a break-out session at a NAIC convention 25 years ago, I noticed no one joined the table hosted by Tom O’Hara. I thanked him for his work with NAIC and his community. We had a delightful 20-minute one-on-one conversation. He was a wealth of experience and wisdom.

I gleaned much from monthly meetings in a club of Methodist clergy, dubbed the Wesley Investment Society (1982-2005). As a volunteer in the 1990s, I led workshops (via overhead projector, hand calculator and colored pens) about NAIC tools, such as George Nicholson’s Stock Selection Guide. I met many people, made lasting friendships, and adopted a simple frame for investor education: “We learn from each other.”

I have been shaped by many forms of community: family, neighborhood, school, teams, organizations, clubs, networks, staff colleagues and faith groups. Learning is contagious and I’ve become a life-long student.

Tomorrow: What I’ve learned as a student of dividends.

Tom O’Hara and George Nicholson, charting NAIC’s first four years of growth

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