George William Jeter, a top financial executive in Aflac’s early years and a longtime Columbus businessman and community philanthropist, died Friday in Columbus at age 80.
Jeter joined Aflac in 1969, serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer, as well as secretary and treasurer of American Family Corp. and American Family Life until 1982.
The company, in a bio, cites him as a "key contributor" in helping Aflac founders and brothers John, Paul and Bill Amos obtain licensing and launch their supplemental health and life insurance enterprise in Japan. The Columbus-based firm, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, has grown steadily through the years, with it generating revenues of just under $21 billion in 2015. It now does about 75 percent of its business in Japan.
"George was a great businessman who played a tremendous role in the growth of Aflac in our early days, but that is only a fraction of who he was," Aflac Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Amos said in a statement Friday. "He was someone who relished giving back to the community. He was instrumental in the creation of the John B. Amos Cancer Center and a tremendous supporter of our local colleges and universities. I could not think of a greater ambassador for Aflac and for Columbus. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and wide circle of friends."
When Paul, the final surviving Amos brother and Dan’s father, died in 2014, Jeter, who had worked closely with them, recalled the trio and how they melded into successful insurance executives despite their different personalities.
"They were all very smart people — and as unalike as any three brothers I have ever seen," Jeter told the Ledger-Enquirer. "John was always going into unplotted areas — Japan is an example of that. Bill’s background was dime stores and he was a very practical and conservative business person. Paul was almost exclusively in sales, making Alabama and Northwest Florida, along with Georgia, the leading district."
Born in Enterprise, Ala., Jeter was educated in Coffee County Public Schools, then pursued an accounting degree at the University of Alabama, graduating from there in 1957. He then served several years as a U.S. Army officer.
Before arriving at Aflac, Jeter worked with the U.S. Department of Treasury and its Internal Revenue Service, serving as a field audit group supervisor in Rome, Ga. He later worked as a consultant for Aflac and was a partner in the Columbus textile firm Denim North America.
His community efforts included serving on the boards and in leadership positions with the Chattahoochee Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Columbus State University Foundation, the Columbus Regional Health Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities of West Georgia. His interest in philanthropy also prompted him to set up the George W. Jeter Foundation.
Jeter’s funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2101 Wildwood Ave., Columbus, with burial in Parkhill Cemetery. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Sunday at Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 4071 Macon Road, Columbus.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to John B. Amos Cancer Foundation, 1831 5th Ave., Columbus, Ga., 31904.
Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Chuck Williams contributed to this report.