According to Maria Hughes, Humana’s chief inclusion and diversity officer, there are two things all people will say about David A. Jones, Sr., the company’s co-founder who recently died: he deeply cared about people, and he brought out the best in everyone.
Speaking to a crowd of dozens on the 25th floor of Humana’s headquarters in downtown Louisville Wednesday afternoon, Hughes set the tone for an event in which former colleagues and city leaders gathered to tell stories about the beloved industry titan.
The company also announced at the end of the event that it will honor Jones through commissioning a sculpture of the co-founder and installing a plaque outside the building and making a donation to The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork.
Jones, who was CEO of Humana Inc. for 37 years and its board chairman for 44 before retiring in 2007, grew up in a tough West End neighborhood. He died at the age of 88 on Sept. 18 — just over a month after the passing of his longtime wife, Betty.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, one of the event’s speakers, said that when he took office in 2011, he reached out to Jones for financial support to launch the city’s SummerWorks program, which is designed to help young people in the region get high-quality, paid summer jobs.
Jones agreed to help and told Fischer he wanted him to be “one of the best mayors that the city of Louisville ever had.”
Fischer said Jones “championed countless great causes in our community,” such as affordable housing, education and the Ohio River Bridges project.
“Like so many of the good things that happened in our city in the past 50 years, when we look at the people who helped make it happen [and] who helped inspire these programs, you keep finding the same name: David Jones.”
Another speaker, the Rev. Kevin Cosby, praised Jones for integrating his faith into how he approached all facets of his life.
“You will never understand David Jones Sr. apart from the faith that motivated what he did,” Cosby said. Jones “lived with an idea that he was doing God’s business through his business. He did not compartmentalize life.”
Cosby, who is the president of Simmons College of Kentucky, the commonwealth’s only private historically black college or university, said he went to Jones in 2005 when he was appointed to his position.
Jones responded by writing a check for $1 million to Simmons, which helped lift the college up to where it is today, according to Cosby.
Jones’ protégé, banker and investor J. David Grissom, also spoke at the event. He said that “nobody worked harder” than Jones, and “nobody was glued more to his family and his friends” than him.
“David had the kind of charisma, intellect, energy and integrity that when you met him, you never forgot him,” Grissom said. “I know I never will.”
At the end of the event, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard announced three different things the company will do to honor Jones. First, the Humana Foundation will donate $2 million in David’s name to The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork to establish a new environmental conservation fund. Jones played an instrumental role as a donor and fundraiser in forming the public parks system.
Additionally, the company is installing a plaque immediately outside the entrance to Humana’s headquarters.
“Humana co-founder David Allen Jones (1931 – 2019) affected his hometown of Louisville in ways we’ll celebrate and benefit from for generations,” the top of the plaque reads.
Broussard also announced that the company has commissioned Louisville artist and sculptor Ed Hamilton to make a sculpture of Jones. The sculpture will be finished and placed in front of Humana’s headquarters in about two years, according to Broussard.
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