Stanley E. Foster was considered a giant in many arenas, any one of which would have been an accomplishment its own right; a true rags-to-riches businessman, civic activist, philanthropist, political benefactor and pillar Jewish community.
"He really worked hard to make the world a better place," said his daughter, Lisa Foster. "He cared passionately about the community and all aspects of it."
Mr. Foster served on the board of directors of 11 corporations, ranging from banking to telecommunications to supermarket equipment.
Mr. Foster's past directorships read like a civic Who's Who: United Way. Chamber of Commerce. Jewish Federation. Combined Arts Council. The list goes on.
Mr. Foster was born in Portland, Ore., son of a scrap-dealing immigrant from Ukraine. He graduated from the University of Washington and owned a retail furniture store inPortland, Ore., before coming to San Diego in 1954.
He joined the Ratner Corp. in San Diego that year after marrying the boss's daughter, whom he met on a blind date in Portland.
Mr. Foster eventually succeeded his father-in-law, Abe Ratner, as company president in 1970. He went on to buy the Hang Ten sportswear trademark for $3 million, turning it into a $200 million venture within a decade.
Under the Hang Ten label, with its two bare footprints, licensees worldwide marketed everything from T-shirts and jeans to shoes, boots and skateboards.
As his success grew, so did Mr. Foster's stature in San Diego's civic and religious circles.
"The phrase 'community activist,' would not do justice to Stanley Foster," said George Mitrovich, president of San Diego's City Club.
"He was a dear friend and one of the most decent human beings I ever met," Gov. Gray Davis said through a spokesman. "Sharon and I will greatly miss him."
Pete Wilson, the former Governor of California, U.S. Senator and San Diego mayor, called Mr. Foster "a role model for citizen leadership."
By the 1980s, Mr.Foster's clothing company had expanded into real estate development. He sold the Hang Ten and Lightning Bolt trademarks and, as head of an investment corporation, shifted more attention to civic endeavors, including his role as a national leader among gun-control advocates.
In 1995, he was among10 San Diegans honored as "Citizens of the Year" at a dinner sponsored by The City Club of San Diego and the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
"I think there was no more committed human being to helping the world about him than Stan," said Murray Galinson, San Diego Bank board chairman. "He was one of the most generous people I've ever met, not only with his money but also his time and his ideas."
Excerpts taken from, Stanley Foster; a civic pillar, written by Chet Barfield and Jack Williams, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS November 15, 2001
Modifications and article re-arrangement made by James Michaelian, August 12, 2014