Walter D. Foss

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Walter D Foss.png
Born (1856-09-11) September 11, 1856 (age 167)
Died November 4, 1938(1938-11-04) (aged 82)

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Obituary for Walter D. Foss

  • Walter D. Foss Dies in Cleveland: Built Brush Co. Founded By His Father
Walter D. Foss, b1856-d1938

Nationally Known Manufacturer, Civic Leader Here, Was Ill Four Months.

Walter D. Foss, 82, retired president of The Wooster Brush Company, and widely known civic leader and philanthropist, died shortly after eight o'clock last night in St. Luke's hospital in Cleveland, where he had been ill since July 6th.

Funeral services will be held from the Wooster Messonic Temple at 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Taken to the hospital from his apartments in Hotel Carter, Cleveland, where he had lived for a number of years, Mr. Foss, suffering from ailments due to advanced age, failed to regain his strength, but grew gradually weaker. He had lain in a coma for a week prior to his passing, only a rugged constitution permitting the spark of life to kept alive.

Born in Wooster, September 11, 1856, Mr. Foss had done his life work here. As a young man he entered the employ of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a telegraph operator and served as train dispatcher for several years. Then he went into business with his father, the late Adam Foss, who had started the manufacture of brushes in the city of Wooster. In 1879 Mr. Foss and the late George J. Schwartz took over the management of what was then the Wooster Brush Works and continued to operate until 1901 at which time O. H. Foss, D. J. Foss, Lewis Rhodes and Miss Elma Shipley took over the Schwartz interest. In 1909 The Wooster Brush Company was incorporated, with Walter D. Foss as president and he continued actively in charge until some time after the death of Mrs. Foss, in 1913. He had met Mrs. Foss at Beaver Fall, Pa., while working for the Pennsylvania railroad, and they were married there. She was formerly Mame E. Jolley.

Three sons are the company's present active managers.

IN TRADE ORGANIZATIONS As the head of one of the most widely known brush-making establishments in the world, Mr. Foss also became active in a number of trade organizations. He was president of The National Paint, Oil and Varnish Association in 1915, and president of the Cleveland Paint, Oil and Varnish Club for two terms. He also belonged to the Paint and Allied Industries 50-year club, and was affliated with the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association, one of the world's largest organizations.

TRUSTEE OF COLLEGE Mr. Foss was a trustee of Wooster College, in 1901, after the disastrous fire, led the Wayne county organization which raised $100,000 for rebuilding that institution. At that time a very close friendship developed between Mr. Foss and President L. E. Holden.

"Leave Wayne county to us,"he told the college president, and his organization raised the funds needed here.

Mr. Foss was a liberal donor to the college fund, and in later years gave other sums to the institution, including a substantial sum for the stadium.

Mr. Foss was a member of the Cleveland Rotary Club, the Cleveland Athletic Club, Acacia Country Club and the American Club, at Havana, Cuba.

He had been active for many years in Masonic circles. He first became affiliated with Masonry in Wooster in 1889. He held membership in all of the Masonic bodies in Wooster, was a Past Commander of Wooster commandery, K. T. No. 48, a member of Rose Croix, 18th Degree of Canton, and Lake Erie Consistory, of Cleveland. He was also a member of the Shrine, and Medinah Temple, Chicago, a 32nd degree Mason. He was president of The Masonic Temple Co., which build the present temple in Wooster.

Mr. Foss was asked to conduct the Wayne county campaign in the first Liberty Loan drive for two billion dollars back in 1917, when two billion dollars were a lot of money Mr. Foss came to Wooster from Cleveland and perfected the organization which not only put this drive over the top but made other drives successful.

In politics Mr. Foss was always a very strong and stalwart Republican. Among his friends was the late President Warren G. Harding, for whom Mr. Foss always had great admiration not only as a president but as a friend as well.

STARTED COUNTRY CLUB Mr. Foss was the first president of The Wooster Country Club, and was largely responsible for its founding. A Boston friend had besought him to take up golf, and finally made him a present of a golf bag and a set of clubs, telling him to use them. This caused him to interest several to other local citizens, and the organization of the Country Club resulted.

Mr. Foss was a director of The Security Savings & Loan Company at Cleveland, and was vice president of The Winton Hotel Company.

Friends today recalled that the passing of his wife had the most to do with his retiring from active business.

"I just can't concentrate on the brush business." he told one friend who dropped in his office shortly after Mrs. Foss' death. "I think I'll leave." he added.

"And in a couple of weeks after this he did leave, lock stock and barrel. The death of his companion had taken much out of his life."

It was not a great while after the death of his wife, to whom he was greatly attached, that Mr. Foss retired from business.

He considered retiring for some time. His son. Oscar Foss, had been associated with him in conducting the business, and he considered that, with his other sons coming into the firm, he was leaving it in competent hands. Not only did he retire, but he left the city, ad made is headquarters in Cleveland, where he had many friends who had been associated with him, in one way or another, and in who companionship he found much pleasure.

Mr. Foss traveled far and wide making trips around the world, and to various points of interest everywhere. When the Winton Hotel later was erected he made his home in a permanent suite of rooms in that hotel. The name has since been changed to the Carter hotel but Mr. Foss continued his residence there, and was visited frequently by many old friends from Wooster. His winters were spent first in Florida, and then in Cuba where he made his headquarters at the American Club, in Havana and where he had many acquaintances. One winter, in 1934, he spent in Honolulu, on account of revolutions and threatened revolutions in Cuba but of recent years he has wintered in Cuba.

Mr. Foss, until recent years maintained Wooster as his home and his voting residence, and on his frequent returns here made headquarters with one of his sons, frequently with Oscar Foss who was long closely associated with his father in business.


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  • Husband: Walter D. Foss
  • Wife: Mame E. Jolley
  • Children:
    • Oscar Howard Foss
    • Donald J. Foss

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  • 11 Sept 1856 Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio


  • __________________ Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania


  • 4 Nov 1938 Cleveland, Ohio


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