Jack Foster, who edited the Palm Beach Evening Times from 1976 until it folded in 1990, died tonight from complications from pneumonia and a broken hip at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis. He was 82.
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Foster began his career sweeping floors and covering high school sports for a weekly newspaper in Oklahoma before rising to the top job at The Evening Times, the sibling afternoon newspaper to the morning Palm Beach Post, both owned by Cox Enterprises.
Once The Evening Times ceased publication, Foster served on The Post's Editorial Board until he retired in 1991.
Randy Schultz, editor of The Post's editorial page, remembered Foster as "very easy to edit." He was a frequent contributor to Letters to the Editor and wrote several columns in the years immediately following his retirement.
"Even in recent years he'd send the occasional emails and letters," Schultz said. "He remained engaged until late in life."
While still in high school, Foster began his journalism career in Poteau, Okla., sweeping the floors and covering high school sports for a weekly newspaper, said Helen Foster, his wife of 62 years. He was the Oklahoma Baptist University reporter for the Shawnee News-Star before transferring to the University of Oklahoma in 1950, where he worked in the sports information department.
Foster's main job was recapping football plays on a mimeograph machine and passing them out to sports writers in the press box. He also worked nights as a sports copy editor at the Daily Oklahoman. The newspaper offered him a job after graduation, but he was offered more money to be an editor at the Elk City Daily News in Oklahoma, Helen Foster said.
Foster had a particular love for editing, she said. "He was an average reporter, but boy, could he edit," Helen Foster said.
Foster later worked in Texas and at the Cleveland Plain Dealer before moving to the Cox-owned Dayton Daily News and then to the Evening Times.
Linda Ferris, who worked as Foster's administrative assistant, described him as a voracious reader.
"He really cared about politics," she said. "He read all the papers and he knew the current events that were happening so he could make good decisions about what to put on the front page."
In retirement, Mr. Foster enjoyed activities such as editing the newsletter for the Mounts Botanical Gardens in West Palm Beach and doing The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.
"He could do the New York Times crossword in less than 30 minutes," Helen Foster said.
Foster also is survived by his son, Kelly, of Columbus, Ohio; three daughters, Jere Proctor of Melbourne, Jean Gall of Chicago and Danna Wilson of Palm Harbor; and nine grandchildren. The National Cremation Society is handling arrangements.
Published in The Palm Beach Post from Apr. 9 to May 8, 2013