Allen C. Foster, owner and publisher for decades of Toledo-area weekly newspapers, including the former West Toledo Herald, died Tuesday in his Sylvania Township home. He was 92.
He had congestive heart failure, his wife, Marty Foster, said.
Mr. Foster also was longtime owner of Toledo Legal News, which he sold in March, 2017, his wife said.
He sold his remaining weekly community papers, the Sylvania Herald and what had become the Toledo Herald, in 1998 to a Delphos, Ohio, publishing executive. The last, the Sylvania Herald, folded in 2011.
He was born Jan. 19, 1926, in Coshocton, Ohio, to Mary and Clifford Foster. He was a 1943 graduate of Coshocton High School. In the Navy, he became a gunner’s mate first class in World War II and served in the Pacific Theater aboard a tug in the fleet of Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey. He was discharged in 1946.
He received a business degree from Bowling Green State University, which he attended through the GI Bill. He thought he’d become an accountant and landed a job at Erie Ordnance Depot in Port Clinton.
“He worked in bookkeeping. That wasn’t his cup of tea,” his wife said.
A co-worker boasted of ties to the owner of a West Toledo paper, Cen-Roe News, and of plans to quit and sell advertising for the weekly. Yet the co-worker persisted at the ordnance depot, prompting Mr. Foster to say, “If you’re not going to do it, give me the guy’s name, and I’ll go,” his wife said.
Mr. Foster in short order became editor and sales director of Cen-Roe News, which took its name from Central Avenue and Monroe Street, and in 1954 he bought the newspaper. About four years later, Cen-Roe News and Lucius Hunt’s West Toledo Herald merged. The new publication adopted the West Toledo Herald name, with Mr. Foster as publisher.
Later acquisitions included newspapers in Maumee and Sylvania that were owned by Maumee Valley Publishing.
Editorial content largely consisted of school and community events. One of his best known staff members was Geraldine “Gerry” Hudick, a former Blade staff writer who had a West Toledo Herald society column for 25 years.
Garage sales were a mainstay of the classifieds.
The company, Allen Foster Publications, also had a commercial printing operation on West Alexis Road in Sylvania Township that printed other publications, including the University of Toledo’s student newspaper, the Collegian.
“It was a big business for him,” his wife said. “Between running the Legal News and the Herald and those outlying papers, it was a lot of work. He could be very tough, don’t get me wrong, but a handshake with him would take care of business.”
He liked to play golf and socialize at Sylvania Country Club, where he was a member. He and his wife formerly had homes in Palm City, Fla., and LaSalle, Mich.
Surviving are his wife, Marty Foster, whom he married Dec. 31, 1979; son, Jeffrey Foster; stepsons Thom Lantz and Anthony and Ronald DeCola; stepdaughter, Lisa Lantz; seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at noon Friday at Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, with services at 2 p.m.
The family suggests tributes to Cherry Street Mission or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
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