Paul S. Amos, who co-founded Aflac Inc. with his brothers and helped build it into the largest seller of supplemental health insurance, has died. He was 88.

Amos died after an illness late Wednesday in Columbus, Ga., where the company is based, says Jon Sullivan, an Aflac spokesman. He was chairman emeritus, and still visited the insurer daily after retiring in 2001.

“One of the giants of the voluntary industry is gone,” says Nelson Griswold, EBA columnist and agency consultant with Agency Growth Mastermind Network

Along with his brothers William and John, Paul started American Family Life Insurance Co. in 1955, according to the insurer’s website. The company, which became known as Aflac in the late 1980s, soon introduced a policy designed to cover expenses for people with cancer, marketing it to groups of employees at their firms.

Aflac, now led by Paul’s son, Chief Executive Officer Daniel P. Amos, 62, entered Japan in the 1970’s. The country now accounts for about three quarters of the firm’s business.

“My father was a consummate businessman who led with compassion and dignity,” the CEO said in a statement. “He was a straight-shooter who believed in the simple tenets of honesty and integrity.”

Paul was the last survivor among the three co-founders, Sullivan said. In addition to his son, he’s survived by his wife Jean; Paul S. Amos II, his grandson and Aflac’s president; and granddaughter Lauren Amos. He has four great-grandchildren, the insurer said.

Mr. Paul

Paul Shelby Amos was born in Enterprise, Ala., to John Shelby Amos and the former Helen Mullins, according to a biography of his brother, John, by Seymour Shubin. Paul Amos was the youngest of three boys. His father, the town postmaster, sold insurance on weekends and served one term in the state legislature.

At Aflac, where he was known as Mr. Paul, Amos managed sales in Alabama and West Florida, and later oversaw marketing, according to the company’s statement. He later took on the titles of president and chairman.

“Mr. Paul … was one of the most gracious men I’ve ever met,” says Walt Podgurski of the Workplace Benefits Association, a subsidiary of EBA’s parent company SourceMedia.

The insurer is known for its use of a talking white duck in advertisements. The bird’s first commercial aired in the U.S. in 2000 and in Japan in 2003. The insurer changed its logo to include the duck two years later.

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