Joseph C. Ladd, insurance executive and civic leader

Joseph C. Ladd
Joseph C. Ladd
Posted: July 07, 2014

Joseph C. Ladd, 87, of Bryn Mawr, a former ward of the state who rose to become a respected insurance executive and Philadelphia civic leader, died Wednesday, June 18, of prostate cancer at his home.

Mr. Ladd was born in Chicago, and taken in by the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society before being adopted by Stephen C. and Laura McBride Ladd of Elgin, Ill. The home is now a United Way agency.

Because of his boyhood experience, Mr. Ladd understood the need for public service and assumed a lifelong mantle of volunteerism.

Coming full circle in 1978, he chaired the United Way's fund-raising campaign in Philadelphia. In an emotional speech before 1,000 campaign volunteers and civic and business leaders at the closing dinner, he detailed how the Boy Scouts, the USO, Red Cross, and the Illinois children's home had enriched his life.

The speech brought the audience to its feet and donations into the agency coffers. As a result, the campaign surpassed its fund-raising goal for the first time in six years, his family said in a tribute.

A World War II veteran, Mr. Ladd graduated from Elgin High School early so that he could enlist in the Navy in 1944. He was posted to the Submarine Base at Portsmouth, N.H., and the Submarine Base at Subic Bay in the Philippines.

Four years after being honorably discharged in 1946, he graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree. He also earned a Chartered Life Underwriter, an insurance certification, from the American College in Bryn Mawr.

Mr. Ladd's career started with the Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. He served as an agent; manager of the Evanston, Ill., branch; director of agencies; and as manager of the firm's Los Angeles branch.

He later moved to Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Co. where he became president and chief executive officer in 1971. He was elected chairman of the board in 1984 and served in that role until retiring in 1989.

Mr. Ladd also was a member of the board of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the first person in many years to be elected chairman twice - first in 1980 and again in 1984.

"He was happy to serve twice because he felt he wanted to give something back," said his wife, Barbara Virginia Carter Ladd.

His other board memberships benefited CoreStates, the Philadelphia Electric Co., the Philadelphia Suburban Corp., and the Rorer Group.

In the civic arena, Mr. Ladd served on the boards of the Bryn Mawr Hospital, the Greater Philadelphia First Corporation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Main Line Health, the YMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity, and the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

In 1986, Mr. Ladd was honored for his service by receiving the William Penn Award given by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and PenJerDel. He was named the YMCA's Man of the Year in 1979, and a year later was named a Distinguished Pennsylvanian by the William Penn Foundation.

In 1985 he was granted an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree by Spring Garden College.

"As chairman of Spring Garden's successful capital campaign, he was instrumental in helping to raise funds for our new campus," the college said on its May 18, 1985, commencement program.

In private life, Mr. Ladd liked to garden. He planted tomatoes, green beans, and black-eyed peas to give his wife a sense of home, since she came from the South.

He was a member of the Philadelphia Country Club and the Amelia Island Plantation Club.

He married Barbara Virginia Carter in 1965. The couple celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary June 5.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Ladd is survived by son Joseph C. Ladd; daughters Barbara J. Ladd and Virginia C. Ladd; and eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by daughter Carroll Ladd Smith and son William F. Ladd, both in 1994.

A celebration of his life was held Saturday, June 21.

Donations may be made to the Bryn Mawr Hospital Foundation, in memory of Joseph C. Ladd, 130 S. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010.


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