Monday, May 7, 2012

Remembering Jon Foust

Jon Foust was a wonderful friend to Ron and me, and our girls, since the two men met at the Allstate Insurance Company in the mid-1960's. Many of the men that Ron met and worked with at Allstate, continued to work together in the years that followed. Doug Blaser, John Pitchess and Jon Foust to name just a few. Doug said that during their time at Allstate, they "covered for one another while they were out interviewing for anything that would get them out of Allstate." That is so true.

Jon became one of the original founding members of the White House Advance Office. President Nixon asked Ron to establish a White House Advance Office soon after the 1969 Inaugural. Previously, advance men were hidden away in various government departments. President Nixon viewed it as an important function of the White House and wanted it legitimized.

The founding advance men were Jon Foust, Mike Schrauth, Dewey Clower, Bill Henkel and Mike DuVal. They, under Ron's leadership, set the standard and wrote the manual for all Presidential events and travel that would follow. Red Cavaney referred to them as "The Fab Five."

Ron fondly referred to Jon as his "junk yard dog" because he could give him the toughest assignments and the hardest advances. He was the guy who went over to the Committee to Re-elect the President for the 1972 campaign. It didn't get much harder than that!

"When President Nixon appointed Ron to be the 8th Director of the National Park Service, Jon and Doug went with him. Jon was the man who would deal with the concessionaires and Doug was Chief of Staff.

Jon and Nancy kept our three little girls, countless times, when we traveled. They never complained and they never said no to having three additional children to feed, get to school or anywhere else they needed to go. Stevie, Scott and Holly Foust were our children, too. The six kids were amazing in their friendship. They always had fun together. I honestly don't remember them ever fighting or not getting along. I remember once when the adults were enjoying a cocktail in the living room, and all six kids were watching TV in the family room, I had to go in and ask them to be quiet. I returned to see Jon, Nancy and Ron laughing hysterically, because the only one who got yelled at was our dog, Scoshi. He was the disruptor of the group, not any of the kids. The five older ones figured out that they could walk through the woods from our house to the Foust house in Potomac. That was great fun for them and they built forts, climbed trees, and collected all kinds of treasures. Looking back, they were a lucky bunch of kids, because today parents are scared to death to have their kids play in the woods all alone.

Jon was Santa Claus every Christmas. He was really good at it, too. We'd get the girls up and tell them to go to the top of the stairs and quietly take a peek at what was happening in the living room. Jon would be filling their stockings by the soft light of the Christmas Tree. Then he'd do a few "Ho Ho Ho's, and disappear. Marja went so far as to challenge someone who told her there really wasn't a Santa Claus. "But, I saw him, and heard him," she argued.

Jon and Nancy's marriage did not last and we have lost track of her. That makes me very sad because she was a cherished friend that I miss. If this blog somehow catches up with her, I'd love to have her get in touch.

We are so happy that we got to know Carolyn Foust at Ron's surprise 70th Birthday party in Jackson Hole. Jon was walking with the help of a cane then, and tired easily, but we were honored that he came so far to make the surprise such a special happening. They also came to the 20th Anniversary celebration at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda. Jon was also on hand for the "Managing the President's Time" Legacy series panel that was really a tribute to Bob Haldeman and his leadership. Ron was so pleased to be able to introduce Jon as one of President Nixon's advance men.

What can you say when you lose a dear friend? Especially one who was a part of our lives for such a long time. In Jon's case, I can't help but think of all the many ways he was always ready to help. It didn't matter what the task at hand might be. He'd roll up his sleeves and "get 'er done!" He had a self-confidence that was contagious, and he usually had a hearty, "How the Hell are ya?" greeting to offer.

Jon, thanks for everything, but mostly your friendship. You were always there for us and what more can be asked of a true friend? You were a very special one to us and to many others. You were loved, you will be missed.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Hello GramAnne! So happy to read your blog. Thank you for writing such kind and generous words about my dad. I know he loved his friendship with you and Ron, too. Love, Holly (