LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Humana Inc. will honor its late co-founder and former longtime CEO David Jones Sr. with a $2 million donation to the east Louisville parks system Jones helped establish, a sculpture by famed Louisville artist Ed Hamilton and a plaque that will be placed in front of the company’s headquarters building at 500 W. Main Street.
The company’s actions to honor Jones were announced during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon near the top floor of the Humana Building, which the company built in the 1985 under Jones’ leadership.
Jones died in September at the age of 88 only weeks after the passing of his wife of 65 years, Betty.
Jones transcended his modest upbringing in west Louisville to co-found what would become Kentucky’s largest corporate headquarters.
Speakers at Wednesday’s event remembered Jones as keen businessman who remained grounded in his family and friends and was extremely generous with his wealth.
“No matter how much success David had and how much wealth his family accumulated, he had the same friendships for all those years,” said J. David Grissom, the Louisville lawyer and banker who was involved with Humana in its early days in the 1960s (then called Extendicare). “…David had the kind of charisma, intellect, energy and integrity that, when you met him, you never forgot him.”
Humana is one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies is ranked 56th in the Fortune 500.
To hear Carl Pollard tell it, the company in its earlier decades had a much more freewheeling culture than the polished, high-minded corporate chic it exudes today.
Pollard was a longtime finance executive who helped Jones grow the company, which started as a nursing home operator in 1961 and evolved into a hospital owner before moving into insurance.
Pollard said none of those evolutions were premeditated.
“I’d like to say that we had some grand scheme of things,” Pollard said. “… We got up to where we had about 120 nursing homes; not by any great marketing studies. If somebody found out something was for sale, we would jump in the car or on the airplane and go try to buy it.”
When the company was buying a nursing home in Huntsville, Alabama, the seller was also building a hospital, so Humana got into the hospital business in the 1970s.
“I can’t tell you about the culture … It was very much ‘fly the seat of your pants,’” Pollard said.
Humana’s foundation will donate $2 million for an “environmental conservation fund” at the Parklands of Floyds Fork, the east Louisville park system that the Jones and his family were instrumental in establishing.
The sculpture by Ed Hamilton will take about two years to complete, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard said at the event.