July 26, 1924 – January 12, 2020
Hugo J. Standing, Esq. died peacefully at home in Pacific Palisades, CA where he was a resident for over 50 years.
Hugo was born in the lovely seaside town of Hove, Brighton, England, the son of Marie and Hugh Standing. At six years old, he started the disciplined study of piano which ignited his lifelong passion for music. As a teen, he foraged for blackberries on the downs and cycled for distances of 60 miles in the verdant English countryside. He developed an impressive self-reliance.
During World War II, at the age of 16, Hugo joined the RAF and was sent to train in Canada and Nova Scotia. He became a brave and resourceful navigator for the fast twin-engine, wooden Mosquito aircraft; and was sent on recognizant flight assignments over Saigon, Vietnam, Madras, India and other Far East locations. He felt so lucky to have survived those dangerous missions, including 3 crash landings and the malaria he contracted. Many of his young friends died, so the war experience reinforced his devout Episcopalian faith.
After the war, Hugo attended Cambridge University (Peterhouse) and earned his M.A. Degree in Economics. He thought compound interest and the business opportunities in the United States were fascinating. He also rowed on the river Cam for the Cambridge team and played tennis. During the university holidays, he played the piano and the horn in his own band and enchanted many dancing audiences with his fabulous repertoire at large New Year’s Eve parties in posh Brighton hotels.
In 1949, he visited Switzerland where with kismet, he met the love and light of his life, Jean Hope Willis, a pretty Virginian socialite and student at the University of Geneva. He invited Jean and all her friends for dinner; this gesture showed Jean that this dashing Englishman was a true gentleman. The evening started their enduring joy of dancing together and Jean’s singing of 1940’s show tunes with Hugo at the piano. They would become the life of the party.
When Jean returned home to Washington D.C. and Hugo went home to England, he sent a proposal by the Royal Mail. As Hugo recounted with a jovial chuckle, he arrived in New York City with 25 dollars in his pocket. They were married in 1950 and settled in Baltimore, Maryland where Hugo had accepted a position with Alexander and Alexander Inc., the prestigious insurance brokerage company. He also taught economics at night. By 1959, Hugo was asked to join A&A Los Angeles becoming senior vice president where he would successfully merge insurance companies from Hawaii to Alaska to build the Western Region of A&A, now the second largest insurance brokerage firm in the world. He also brought many significant accounts like Northrop and Warner Brothers to A&A while working with French aviation firms, Swiss banks and Lloyd’s of London. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors for A& A with frequent trips to New York City. He logged huge mileage with TWA. The business journals reported that he was “the surge” behind the financial growth with “a captivating personality”. Eventually Hugo was Chairman of the Board.
Upon his retirement, Hugo remained an advisor for A&A (now part of AON) and started Hugo Standing Inc., an investment advisory firm specializing in life insurance investments and securities. He also helped create financial policy and investment strategies while serving on many boards such as Woodbury University, Planned Parenthood, Westlake School, Neighborhood Youth Association, and the Parish of St. Matthew to name a few. Most of all, he was a mentor for many young people by introducing them to their first jobs. He loved to connect people with opportunity.
Hugo had a refined taste in culture, literature, poetry, and music. But his earnest intellect was enlightened by his eccentric sense of humor found in his daily life. All of his dogs were dignitaries in his household. He enjoyed tea time everyday, cooked Indian curry dishes with chutney, and took pride in his English trifles and marmalade made from scratch. Hugo made lemonade out of lemons. He was an optimistic, open minded, and resilient man who loved to entertain people at social gatherings with his broad list of piano music from Chopin to the Beatles. For many he was darling Hugo, a caring, helpful friend who created wealth and joy. To his children he was the most attentive, kind father there ever was. He was super active in his church, The Parish of St. Matthew and his clubs: the Bel-Air Bay Club, the Riviera Country Club, the California Club, the Oxford and Cambridge Club, and numerous others.
In 1998, all this participation in life suddenly halted due to complications of heart surgery. Hugo had been prepared to die but he survived and lived his last decades in companionship with his devoted wife Jean Willis Standing who predeceased him in 2018. (Thank you to Norma Fernandez, a remarkable caregiver)! Hugo is survived by his daughter, Beverley Standing; son, Geoffrey Standing; daughter, Anne Anderson (Steve Anderson); granddaughters, Camille Anderson and Brielle Anderson; brother, Paul Standing (Judith Standing); niece, Jane Standing; and nephew Christopher Standing.
After two postponements due to covid, a memorial service and reception will be held at The Parish of St. Matthew, 1031 Bienveneda Avenue, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. Donations in Hugo’s name may be made to The Parish of St. Matthew or a charity of your choice.
Published by Los Angeles Times on Jul. 3, 2022.