Fred Earley honored as Distinguished West Virginian

Retired as Highmark president Nov. 1

Former Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia president Fred Earley speaks after receiving the Distinguished West Virginian Award at the company’s Market Street headquarters Monday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — Less than a week into his retirement, former Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia president J. Fred Earley II was honored Monday with the highest civilian award a Mountain State native can receive.

Earley received the Distinguished West Virginian Award during a Highmark board of directors meeting, bestowed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and presented by state Delegate Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, a member of the company’s board.

“You’ve had a great impact, all across West Virginia and beyond,” Boggs said.

Earley’s successor, Jim Fawcett, said the company is in a great position as he steps in.

“Fred, you’re leaving us as a market leader. We are financially strong,” Fawcett said.

Former Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia president Fred Earley, left, shakes hands with Highmark West Virginia board member and state Delegate Brent Boggs on Monday after Boggs presented Earley with the Distinguished West Virginia Award on behalf of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Earley said the award took him by surprise.

“I’m overwhelmed by this; I really am,” he said.

Earley joined what was then Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1989, serving over the years as vice president, managed care; senior vice president, external operations; corporate compliance officer; general counsel and corporate secretary.

In 2009, he was named president and a member of the board.

A resolution from the board said Earley leaves the company “as one of the state’s most respected employers and businesses.”

“For nearly three decades, J. Fred Earley II has diligently worked for the public good as a key leader in West Virginia’s business community. Through his dedicated service … Mr. Earley has made significant contributions to the success of the company and its mission of providing customers with access to affordable, high quality health insurance coverage and to increasing the availability of health coverage throughout the state,” the resolution said.

Earley would not accept all the credit, pointing to the people and employees with whom he’s worked.

“It’s been a great team effort,” he said. “What you’re viewing as my success is really all their success.”

In addition to his work with Highmark, Earley serves or has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia Health Information Network, the Parkersburg Area Roundtable, the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg and the Parkersburg YMCA.

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