Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Updated: January 6, 5:01 PM ET
Foss was an Air Force colonel in Korean War
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Joe Foss, the first commissioner of the
American Football League, died Jan. 1. He was 87.
Foss also was a World War II fighter ace, who won the Medal of
Honor and the Distinguished Flying Cross after shooting down 26
enemy planes. After leaving the Marine Corps, Foss entered politics
and became governor of South Dakota in 1955.
Foss never regained consciousness after suffering an apparent
aneurysm in October. He died at a hospital in Arizona, South Dakota
Gov. Bill Janklow said.
He became commissioner of the AFL in 1960, and remained in the
job until 1966.
Foss also served as a colonel in the Air Force in the Korean
He also hosted the television show "The American Sportsman" on
ABC, and was president of the National Rifle Association from
"I always had the attitude that every day will be a great
day," Foss said in a 1987 interview. "I look forward to it like a
kid in a candy store, wherever I am."
Foss was born in 1915 on a farm near Sioux Falls. He once said
his love of flying dated to his childhood, when he watched pilots
fly over his family's home and wave from the cockpit.
"I thought, 'Someday I'm going to trade these horses for an
airplane,'" he said.