Richard Foss, a former longtime president and co-owner of the specialty foods manufacturer Schlotterbeck & Foss Co. in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, died Dec. 11 after a brief illness. He was 96.
Mr. Foss joined the family business in 1940 after graduating from Harvard University. He started in sales and worked his way up the ranks to become president of the company.
The company was co-founded by his grandfather Charles S. Foss in 1866 as a prescription apothecary shop. It later evolved into patented medicines and flavoring extracts, which Foss sold to dairy farmers to make ice cream. Over time, S&F developed specialty food items, such as sauces, marinades, salad dressings, and ice cream syrups and toppings.
Richard Foss’ son Peter Foss said his father took great pride in producing quality products.
“He had very high standards in the way he conducted business,” his son said. “He was very set in the idea that the products made would be the very best they could be.”
As head of the company, Mr. Foss was involved in the day-to-day operation of the manufacturing facility. He was known to leave his office several times a day and walk through the five-story plant to talk with employees and make sure everything was running smoothly. Peter Foss said his father’s door was always open.
“He used to say that some of the best ideas for new products and ways of doing things came from the people who worked there every day,” his son said. “He had a lot of faith in them. It was great to see.”
Mr. Foss worked at the company for 63 years, retiring as chairman of the company’s board of directors in 2003 when the family sold the business.
Outside work, Mr. Foss was a loving husband to his wife, Suzanne Foss, for 55 years. The couple raised three children and lived in Portland for many years.
Another son, Charles Foss, of Portland, remembered him Wednesday as funny, generous, considerate and loyal.
“He was a beautiful man” in every sense of the word, Charles Foss said. “He was handsome his entire life. … He had a beautiful smile, a quick wit, and a great sense of humor. When he shook your hand, that handshake would stay with you a long time.”
Mr. Foss was well known in Portland and supported many charities and organizations. He was instrumental in establishing the city’s tree trust, a group committed to increasing Portland’s tree inventory. He contributed to the cause for at least 20 years, his sons said.
“He was very thrilled to be a part of that effort,” Peter Foss said.
Mr. Foss was a longtime member of the First Parish Church of Portland. He was active in the church, serving as former president of its board of trustees. He also participated in the church’s Christmas pageant for more than 60 years. He had many different roles through the years, but his longest-running role was playing Gabriel.
“He was on this Earth for 96 years,” Peter Foss said. “That’s a wonderful run. He was (a) terrific guy who led a fulfilled life. We are very thankful for that.”
A full obituary for Mr. Foss is scheduled to run in Sunday’s newspaper. His services are being handled by Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home in Portland.
Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: