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Published: 12/6/2008

Medical Mutual chief dies in plane crash

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Medical Mutual CEO Kent W. Clapp and his fiancee, Tracy Turner, were killed in a crash in Puerto Rico's rain forest. Medical Mutual CEO Kent W. Clapp and his fiancee, Tracy Turner, were killed in a crash in Puerto Rico's rain forest.
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Medical Mutual of Ohio Chief Executive Officer Kent W. Clapp - a Montpelier, Ohio, native and a former executive with Blue Cross of Northwest Ohio - was killed Wednesday in the crash of a small airplane in Puerto Rico, according to the company.

Mr. Clapp, who also was chairman and president of Medical Mutual, was 62.

Also killed in the crash was his fiancee, Tracy Turner, and the pilot of the plane they chartered. The twin-engine Rockwell International 690B plane crashed in dense fog into a mountain in the El Yunque rain forest about 13 miles east of San Juan.

Mr. Clapp worked at Blue Cross of Northwest Ohio for about a decade until the organization was merged into Blue Cross and Blue Shield Mutual of Northern Ohio in Cleveland, to become the organization now known as Medical Mutual of Ohio.

"He was kind to everyone whether you were at the highest rank of the corporate ladder or you swept the floor. He treated you with kindness and respect," said Anita Voveris, the director of human resources at Medical Mutual's Toledo office. Mrs. Voveris worked with Mr. Clapp at the office, when it was Blue Cross of Northwest Ohio, in the mid-1980s.

"He was always sincerely interested in the complexities which you saw in the chair that you were in," said Bob Savage, the co-founder of Savage and Associates. "You always knew that you got a great hearing of your views."

Mr. Savage worked with Mr. Clapp on financial matters when Mr. Clapp was corporate controller of Blue Cross of Northwest Ohio.

Mr. Clapp graduated from Tri-State University - now Trine University - in Angola, Ind., in 1969. He became a certified public accountant in 1972.

He worked with the firms Peat, Marwick and Mitchell and later with Ernst & Whinney. He also served in the military in Vietnam.

He joined Blue Cross of Northwest Ohio in 1976 and was promoted to vice president of finance and treasurer in 1979.

In 1986, the organization merged with Blue Cross & Blue Shield Mutual of Northern Ohio in Cleveland. Mr. Clapp became president and chief operating officer in 1992 and in 1997, became chairman, president, and chief executive officer.

The company credits Mr. Clapp for diversifying outside of the insurance business and expanding beyond Ohio.

Mr. Clapp and Ms. Turner were vacationing and had missed a flight from the British Virgin Islands to San Juan, company spokesman Ed Byers said. The couple from Avon Lake, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, chartered the small plane in an effort to make a connecting flight from San Juan to Newark, from where they were to fly back to Cleveland.

Puerto Rican officials identified the pilot as Ken Webster, owner of Websta's Aviation Services Inc. in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. The bodies of Mr. Clapp and Ms. Turner had not been positively identified as of yesterday, but the plane's owner said the couple were the only passengers on board, Mr. Byers said.

The crash investigation was being led by Todd Gunther of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, who was studying the charred wreckage, the agency said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Contact Alex M. Parker at:

aparker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6107.



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