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Humana Co-Founder Dies

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David Jones Sr. — the co-founder of Humana Inc. — died last week in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of 88, in a rehabilitation unit at a long-term care (LTC) facility in Louisville, Kentucky, according to his obituary.

(Related: Jones Follows Jones At Humana)

Jones grew up in West Louisville. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at  the University of Louisville, served in the Navy for three years, and earned a law degree from Yale in 1960. He then returned to Louisville and began practicing law.

He and a friend, Wendell Cherry, started a nursing home company in 1961.

“The main reason we had was to supplement our meager incomes,” Jones told an interviewer, Bill Goodman, in a show aired on KET, the Louisville public television station, in 2009.

How Humana Grew

The nursing home company, which eventually took the name Extendicare Inc., became one of the biggest U.S. long-term care services providers in North America.

Jones and Cherry ended up moving into the acute care hospital business. They sold all of the nursing homes in 1972.

They changed Extendicare’s name to Humana in 1974. The company began offering its own health plans in 1984.

The company spun off its hospitals in 1993. The hospitals are now part of HCA Healthcare Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee.

Jones served as Humana’s chairman until 2005. His son, David Jones Jr., served as the company’s chairman from 2005 through 2010.

Humana now provides or administers health coverage for 9.1 million people. It has a market capitalization, or total resale value, of about $37 billion.

Other Activities

Jones helped start the Actors Theatre’s Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, and he also worked for passage for a major Kentucky education funding bill.

From 1990 through 2006, he helped the U.S. government revive the Romanian health care system. He told the Louisville Courier Journal in a 2018 interview that, when he first visited Romania, in 1990, even the largest hospital in Bucharest had nothing.

“The chief doctor would remove a light bulb and move it from room to room,” Jones said in the interview.

What the Senate Majority Leader Said

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky, spoke of Jones’ passing on the Senate floor.

“I can say without exaggeration that David Jones Sr., was the single most influential friend and mentor I have had in my entire career,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “I have never forgotten something he told me when I was starting out in Jefferson County. He said: ‘The most important word in the English language is focus.’”

Jones “was also one of the kindest, most decent, most generous individuals I have ever met,” McConnell said.

A link to a video of McConnell’s remarks is available here.

— Read Humana’s Well Dine Delivers Millionth Meal, on ThinkAdvisor.

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