Petty Insurance Group is still receiving honors, almost a year since its owner and head agent passed away.

Lelanie Petty, who departed this earth in September 2017 due to brain cancer, started the business that bears her name. Lelanie Petty won best insurance agent in the 2018 Best of The Best contest (put on by the Daily Sun), Lelanie Petty Insurance Group won best insurance agency, and owner Steve Petty, her husband, won best auto salesman.

“We had to change the LLC when she passed away, and restructure a little,” said Petty of the name Petty Insurance Group.

But his surprise was genuine when they received the results of the Best of Best contest.

“What an honor,” he said. “I just think that’s neat.

“We are still the same agency as we were before. Yes, physically Lelanie is not with us, but spiritually she is ...”

Office manager Teresa Jones enjoyed a 40-year friendship with Lelanie that can be described, simply, as “best friends.”

“I had a conversation with her one day after leaving work,” Jones said. “I said ‘Lelanie, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to the office to work without you there.’ She grabbed my hand, and said ‘Yes, you will — you will do it for me, and you’ll do it for Steve — because that’s my dream, and I love that office.’”

Jones said that while it’s hard being without her in the agency she built, the customers coming by to check on them and sharing their stories about Lelanie has been very healing.

“We love that,” she said. “We are there for the long haul. We’re not going anywhere. It’s hard seeing her chair empty — but she’s there, I’m telling you.”

The office still runs the way Lelanie liked it, and once in a while Jones will have her moments and go in the back and let a tear or two fall. But they do it for her.

“She would have loved it because the agents we have are doing amazing in writing new business, and taking care of our old customers,” Jones said. “They’re doing great, and it’s great to see it grow because that’s what she would want.”

Steve said their agency offers home, auto, life, commercial, boat, motorcycle and farm and ranch Insurance — but not health insurance. Lelanie, who started the agency in February 2010, also spent 22 years working for Allstate Insurance.

“Our agency is still going strong, and we’re still here to service everybody, including the customers we have now and new customers,” he said. “It’s not for sale. I have kids growing up who may eventually want to get in it, so it’s here for the long haul.”

Not only is the business growing, but they are adding new agents. Amber McLaughlin is busy tring to earn her insurance license, and they expect her to be in the office come late September.

Also, Petty Insurance Group believes in giving back to the community that’s been so good to them. One way they do that is by sponsoring the Craft Competition at the Navarro County Youth Expo, as well as being active in the live auction.

“I’ve always believed in that,” Steve said. “The Lord’s blessed us and continues to do so, and we want to give back to the community.

“One of her last wishes was that I keep the business going, because it was her dream,” Petty said. “I am going to fulfill this promise to her ... and we’re going to grow it and make it really big.”