October 18th, 2013

Former Johnson & Johnson Corporate Vice President of Public Relations, Lawrence G. Foster, Dies at 88

The following is a personal email from Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, sent to employees earlier today regarding the passing of Lawrence G. Foster, former Johnson & Johnson Vice President of Public Relations.

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of former Johnson & Johnson Corporate Vice President of Public Relations, Lawrence G. Foster.  Larry, who is perhaps best known for guiding the company’s now famous response to the Tylenol® crises of 1982 and 1986, died yesterday at the age of 88.

Many former colleagues and friends of Larry have reached out to reflect on his significant contributions to Johnson & Johnson during his 33 years at the Company, as well as his many accomplishments and philanthropic efforts that continued after his retirement in 1990.   Ralph Larsen, former Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO (1989-2001), said, “Larry Foster was a man of integrity and extraordinarily good judgment.  He played a vital role during his lifetime career at Johnson & Johnson.”

Earlier today, the Foster family issued the following obituary announcement that pays fitting tribute to Larry’s remarkable career, service in the community, and contributions to the communication profession.  As we reflect on his passing today, we will best honor his important legacy by finding our own ways to manage with purpose and integrity and meet the responsibilities outlined in Our Credo.

Former Johnson & Johnson Corporate Vice President of Public Relations
Dies at 88

Lawrence G. Foster

Westfield, NJ (Oct. 17, 2013) – Former Johnson & Johnson Corporate Vice President of Public Relations, Lawrence G. Foster, who guided the company’s now famous response to the Tylenol® crises of 1982 and 1986, died today at the age of 88.

Foster joined Johnson & Johnson in 1957 intrigued by General Robert Wood Johnson and the challenge of helping to form the company’s first public relations department.  He was Director of Public Relations and Assistant to the Chairman before becoming Corporate Vice President of Public Relations.  During his 33 years with Johnson & Johnson he reported to three Chairmen/CEOs.  He retired in 1990.

He was a graduate of St. Mary’s High School, Rutherford, N.J. (1943) and Penn State University (1948).  After graduating from Penn State Foster joined the staff of the Newark News and his reporting assignments included New Jersey’s tumultuous politics.  He headed two news bureaus, and in 1954 became the newspaper’s night editor at the age of 29.

While at Penn State Foster was managing editor of the Daily Collegian and a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and after graduating he remained actively involved with the University.  He was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award (1979) and the Lion’s Paw Medal for Service to the University (1999).  He served as a University Trustee (1980-89) and president of the Alumni Association (1972).  His volunteer service and philanthropy to the University has spanned more than fifty years.

Upon retiring from Johnson & Johnson in 1990, Foster fulfilled a long-standing ambition by writing and publishing the biography of Robert Wood Johnson, Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel (1999), which has been distributed to every public and college library in the nation.  He is also author of A Company That Cares, the 100-year history of Johnson & Johnson (1986) and Robert Wood Johnson and His Credo: A Living Legacy (2008).

Foster was recipient of four of the highest awards in public relations:  the prestigious Alexander Hamilton Medal from the Institute for Public Relations in 2007, for lifetime contributions to the profession; the Atlas Award from the Public Relations Society of America in 1998, for lifetime achievement in international public relations; the Hall of Fame Award from the Arthur W. Page Society in 1994; and in 1989 the Gold Anvil Award, also from PRSA, for contributions to the profession.  PR Week magazine named Foster one of the ten most influential public relations executives of the 20th Century.

He was a founder and past chairman of the Advisory Board of the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State University’s College of Communications; a 16-year trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, N.J., the nation’s largest health care philanthropy; former president of the Arthur W. Page Society (1990-92); and chairman of The Wisemen (1986-90).

He was predeceased by a brother, Donald J. Foster.  He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Ellen Miller Foster; brother, Kenneth A. Foster; daughter, Cynthia Falck, and husband, Brian; son, David L. Foster, V.M.D., and wife, Lucy; daughter, Nanci Carlson, and husband, Carl; son, Gregg M. Foster, and wife, Sandra; son, Lawrence G. Foster, III, M.D., and wife, Patricia; ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A funeral mass will be held 10:00 a.m., Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at The Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, 315 1st St., Westfield, NJ.  Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers contributions would be appreciated to the Central PA Food Bank, 3908 Corey Road, Harrisburg, PA 17109, or the charity of your choosing.

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