Michael “Mickey” DeBellis, who served as Insurance Commissioner under Govs. George C. Wallace and Fob James, passed away at his Greenville home Tuesday after an extended illness. He was 77.
DeBellis joined the staff of the Alabama Department of Insurance in 1973 with a provisional appointment in the Property and Casualty Division. He rose through the ranks of the department, serving as an investigator, consumer specialist, legislative affairs director, deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner.
He is survived by his wife Sue and his daughter Susan. Funeral arrangements have yet to be completed. Dunklin-Herndon Funeral Home in Greenville is coordinating the arrangements.
Gov. Wallace appointed DeBellis as commissioner in 1986. Upon the end of the Wallace administration in 1987, he returned to merit system service. Gov. James tapped DeBellis to serve as commissioner again. This time, DeBellis served for three years before deciding to step down as commissioner upon his 70th birthday. He served as a senior advisor to the commissioner until his retirement in 1998.
“Mickey always tried to do the right thing, even when it was not the most popular thing to do at the time,” said Reyn Norman, ALDOI General Counsel and fellow Greenville resident.
During DeBellis’ tenure as commissioner, the Department achieved accreditation by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Perhaps the largest achievement was DeBellis’ advocacy for the legislation that requires insurance producers to take continuing education courses.
“He really cared about people,” said Deputy Commissioner David Parsons. “He was all about helping consumers."