Oldest at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Creola Phelps retires at age 88
Always active, Creola Phelps took a "temporary" 30-day job with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas when she was 69. It stretched 19 years into a career-capping stint that – among other things - took her all over the state, helping to immunize uninsured kids under the Care Van Program, run by the Caring for Children Foundation of Texas.
And it also made her the oldest employee of the Blue Cross Plans in Texas, Illinois, New Mexico and Oklahoma until her retirement February 24 this year.
"I love to see people smile," Phelps says. "Being with people at work and with clients in the field made it so easy to go to the office each day. You never know the burden someone carries, and a kind word and smile can make all the difference. So why not?"
Phelps was born in Ralls, Texas, near Lubbock. Her family moved to several other towns, and by 12, she was playing the organ and piano at high school choir performances and at small churches.
Varied business ventures
She dreamed of becoming a teacher, but an aunt pushed her toward a business career with her husband, Roy. Along the way, the pair had four children and lived in Louisville, Ky., and St. Louis, Mo., before returning to Texas to operate an auto parts store.
"The plan was that I would operate the store, my husband would run a pipe organ business, and we would get rich. We got rich only in friends, but that was good enough."
Phelps is especially proud of having worked with Pat Hemingway Hall, HCSC's President and CEO, soon after Hall joined Blue Cross & Blue Shield in Texas. "We were responsible for making sure providers were giving top-quality care. I think I can therefore say Pat Hemingway Hall is exactly what we need in these very challenging times."
Hall attended Phelps' retirement Party. "We shared many memories of the wonderful people at Blue Cross. They will do anything for anybody, even if it's not tied directly to health insurance."
Phelps' strong yen for travel was satisfied while she served as tour director for an Arlington, Texas, firm. "I traveled all over the United States, Europe and Canada. But there came a time to let up."
And now Creola Phelps has decided it's time to leave BCBSTX, too. "It won't be easy. It's a wonderful place to work, and I miss it so much already."
We invite any readers who also worked -- or are still working -- into their eighties to share their stories in 200 to 250 words. If we publish your letter, we will send you a pedometer. Letters may be edited for space reasons or clarity, and they become the property of the Health Care Service Corporation.
Contact us at LifeTimesDepartment@bcbsil.com.