Elena Diaz-Verson Amos (1926-2000)
Amos was born in 1926 in Havana, Cuba, to Teresa Bana and Salvador Diaz-Verson, an author and journalist who had also been an anticommunist activist and, at one point, chief of Cuba's national police. In 1944 she came to the United States as an exchange student at the University of Miami in Florida, where she met John Amos. The couple married and had two children, John Shelby and Maria Teresa.
In 1954 the Amos family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where John Amos, an attorney, was a partner in the Presidential Insurance Company. Shortly thereafter, he decided to start his own company, and in 1955 the Amoses moved again, to Columbus, Georgia, where John Amos and his brothers founded the American Family Life Assurance Company, which later became known as Aflac.
Throughout her husband's career, Amos was an active corporate spouse and community volunteer. She hosted many business and social gatherings at their home and served on numerous boards, including those of the Girl Scouts, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Springer Opera House, and State Botanical Garden. The Amoses lived in a house on Steam Mill Road, to which they added rooms as needed until John Amos became ill in the late 1980s. He then built a Mediterranean-style hacienda on the roof of the parking garage within the Aflac corporate headquarters' grounds, in which his wife lived for the rest of her life.
After her husband's death in 1990, Amos became increasingly involved in anti-Castro advocacy and humanitarian causes involving Cuba. She served as a director of the Cuban American Foundation of Miami and the Valladares Foundation, a human rights organization. In 1992 she financed the illegal flight of Major Orestes Lorenzo Perez, a Cuban exile, to Havana to rescue his wife and children. She also assisted Alina Fernandez Revuelta, one of Fidel Castro's daughters, in fleeing Cuba, and Revuelta and her daughter lived with Amos for several years in Columbus.
Amos died on May 3, 2000, of complications from a stroke. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer eulogized her as "an angel to many in [the] community." This tradition of service continues through the John Beverly Amos and Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Foundation, which continues to support educational, cultural, and humanitarian causes in Georgia and beyond. In 2003 the University of Miami dedicated its Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, which houses the university library's Cuban Heritage Collection. Financed in part by Amos and by the Atlanta-based Goizueta Foundation, the building houses a conference room named in her honor.
Richard Hyatt, "Amos: An Angel to Many in Community," Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, May 5, 2000.
Seymour Shubin, The Man from Enterprise: The Story of John B. Amos, Founder of Aflac (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1998).
Laura McCarty, Georgia Humanities Council
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.