Dean Sangalis’ extensive military service with the Marine Corps helped create a solid base for his career in the insurance industry.

“My military experience was extremely helpful. I developed confidence in myself and my ability,” he says. “When things became very challenging, I learned to overcome these hurdles and develop tenacity and resilience. Most importantly, I learned how to work as a team and leave no one behind.”

Dean attended East Chicago Roosevelt High School, winning the state championship in wrestling. He first entered the Marine Corps after graduating from high school, serving in China, Guam, Korea and Japan in many commanding roles and ranks. He was a member of the Navy Olympic wrestling team. He attended and graduated from Ohio State University, where he excelled in wrestling.

Dean served in the MC reserves for many years, while building his business, Dean Sangalis & Associates/Northwestern Mutual Life. His final assignment in the MC Reserves was as Commanding General, Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, before he retired as a Major General.

“My proudest accomplishments are rising from private to general and in business, starting as a young agent and surviving all of these years providing financial security to families and businesses, and seeing my children and grandchildren grow and achieve their own successes. I have been married for 64 years to my wife Velda. She has always understood the profession, doing the grunt work while I went out and tried to make a living.”

His team members have been part of his business for more than 30 years. He first opened his offices in downtown Gary in 1956, moved to Merrillville in 1973 and has been at his current location for more than 25 years.

“I have an excellent staff that has been very helpful in my survival and longevity,” he says. “You have to learn to delegate, forget about your own ego and let them do their jobs.”

Dean says he has enjoyed being a part of the insurance industry by being a mentor for other representatives, participating in professional organizations, study groups and continuing his education as the industry, products and regulations change. Knowledge and experience have allowed him to help his clients make decisions that will impact them down the road.

“I like working with people. You develop a long-lasting relationship with clients, and I am working with third generations in many cases,” he says.

Dean has served in a variety of roles for the insurance industry and has received numerous career honors, as well as being recognized for civic and community involvement, receiving the Sagamore of the Wabash in 1997. He is a member of the Merrillville Rotary, St. George Greek Orthodox Church/Schererville, supports Marine Corps Scholarship programs, Ohio State Athletic Foundation and has served on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana. He has served as the President of the Chicago Council Navy League of the United States and the China Marine Association. He refereed area high school wrestling for many years and is a member of the Indiana Wrestling Hall of Fame.

“In my profession, I have always pursued excellence and am honored to be a member of the Million Dollar Round Table for 60 years. I embrace the opportunity to mentor younger financial representatives and to provide encouragement and support to others in the industry.”

Dean traces his entrepreneurial mindset to his parents as he looks toward the future.

“My folks were immigrants. They taught their children to be independent and work hard. I did not like working 8 to 5 for someone else. I wanted to be my own boss,” he says. “I saw the financial field and a career in insurance as having no ceiling and no bottom.

“I set goals every year and want to continue to work as long as I can and as long as it’s enjoyable. I still work five and a half days a week with the office operating full-time even if I am out of town. I have started mentoring my successors to continue the business, as I feel a strong obligation to the many clients who have placed their trust in our agency to protect then now and in the future.”


Dean Sangalis & Associates, Northwestern Mutual Insurance agency

99 E 86th Ave., Suite G, in Merrillville