In April of 1930, Ernest Fields, who had just received a BA from LMU, started hitchhiking westward, selling Redbook and Cosmopolitan in the Ozarks and working in the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma. He was still on this walking tour when he received a letter from the late William Schneck, the senior vice-president and head of Bond Claims of the United States Guarantee Company. It said that if he could be in New York by the following Monday, he would have the job he had applied for earlier. By now, an expert hitchhiker, he made New York in four days and on less than $5.
On that next Monday evening, July 20, after his first day of work at USG, he wrote his mother and father. “I am to learn a special branch of surety bonding. I will take up claims and try to adjust them with as little expense to my company as possible… I may get to travel some.”
During this span of service with USG and Chubb & Son, he earned the reputation of being one of the finest contract and fidelity loss men in the country, settling cases with skill, integrity and good will, and usually for less than the reserve and sometimes with no loss to the company at all. As for the “traveling some,” he flew well over one million miles on business, not to mention many, many more by car, bus and train. His work took him to every state and to more than 20 foreign countries.
Ernie was born on a farm in Scott County, Va, where he attended a one-room country grammar school. During high school days in Castlewood, Virginia, he helped his father in a grocery and dry goods store after school and worked on road and telephone gangs during the summers. He helped himself through college by teaching dramatics and debating his junior and senior years. In the summers, he worked in a tire plant in Akron, Ohio.
Ernie started at USG as Mr. Schenck’s assistant and remained in Bond Claims throughout his entire career at Chubb & Son, becoming manager in 1944 and then vice president. He earned his LLB from New York, the University, attending at night, and was a member of the New York bar.
He was a member of the International Association of Insurance Counsel and served on the Executive Committee, the Casualty and Surety Club of New York, the Underwriters Golf Club and the Drug and Chemical Club. He was a member of the Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., and served on the Board of Directors as secretary. He also served LMU as a member of the Board of Trustees and as President of the New Jersey Alumni Chapter.