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Paul S. Amos, 88; co-founder of insurer AFLAC

NEW YORK — Paul S. Amos, one of the three brothers who founded AFLAC insurance company nearly 60 years ago and the man behind its huge success in selling policies at workplaces, died Wednesday in Columbus, Ga. He was 88.

In 1955, his oldest brother, John, formed the insurance company, originally called the American Family Life Insurance Co., and the middle brother, Bill, and the youngest, Paul, joined the effort that year. John, a lawyer, was the visionary always seeking to expand the company, turning it into a major insurer in Japan, while Bill was the operations guy who knew how to keep costs down. Paul focused on selling.

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While most insurers sold policies by knocking on doors, Mr. Amos had the company emphasize cluster selling and worksite marketing. Instead of making presentations to individuals, the company’s sales representatives often went to companies to make sales pitches to groups of employees. Today, most of AFLAC’s US policies are bought through payroll deductions.

“Paul’s contributions can’t be overstated,” Kenneth Janke, AFLAC’s deputy chief financial officer, said in an interview. “He was the one who set us on the path of marketing our product at worksites, as opposed to door to door. It was a very efficient manner of distribution. It made our agents more productive.”

Thanks to such strategies, AFLAC, known for selling supplemental policies like cancer insurance, has grown into a giant that insures more than 50 million people and has $121 billion in assets and 185,000 agents worldwide.

In 1964, the company changed its name to the American Family Life Assurance Co. of Columbus, and in 1969, it adopted the acronym AFLAC. A duck that quacks the word has become the company’s famous — and humorous — symbol.

After John died in 1990, Paul replaced him as Aflac’s chairman, and Paul’s only son, Daniel, was named chief executive. Bill died in 1997.

“My father was a consummate businessman who led with compassion and dignity,” Daniel, now the company’s chairman and chief, said in a prepared statement. “He was a straight shooter who believed in the simple tenets of honesty and integrity. He was a gentleman, as well as a gentle man.”

Paul Shelby Amos was born in Enterprise, Ala. His family moved to Milton, Fla. He joined the Coast Guard during World War II, serving in the Pacific.

Recognizing the importance of college, he set up a fund at AFLAC that provides scholarship assistance for workers and their children to attend college.

He met Jean Roberts at Milton Methodist Church, where she sang in the choir. They married in 1948 and were together for 65 years.

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