News | April 1, 1998

Louis W. Foster, Founder And Chairman of the Board Emeritus of 20th Century Industries, Dies at 85

Louis W. Foster, founder and chairman of the board emeritus, of 20th Century Industries, the Woodland Hills-based insurance holding company, died on Sunday 29 March at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 85 years of age and lived in Bel Air, CA.

"His death resulted from natural causes," said William L. Mellick, president and chief executive officer of the company.

Mr. Foster began his career in the insurance business in 1937 as an independent agent. In 1958, he founded 20th Century Insurance as an inter-insurance exchange offering automobile insurance. In 1968, 20th Century Insurance Exchange became a capital stock company, 20th Century Industries, the holding company for 20th Century Insurance Company and 21st Century Casualty Company.

Throughout his life, Mr. Foster was committed to a wide variety of community service activities. In recognition of his support for the Boys Club of America, Mr. Foster was presented the "Man/Boy Award" in 1983, followed by the Founders Award in 1984. The headquarters facility of the Boys and Girls Club in the San Fernando Valley is named the Louis W. Foster Building in his honor.

Mr. Foster was also the recipient of the Humanitarian Award from the San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Clinic in June 1986. His work with the United Way included serving as chairman of the North Angeles Region 1, 1984-85 United Way campaign, earning him the Loebbecke Award.

In June 1990, Mr. Foster was presented with the Americanism Award of the Boy Scouts of America, Western Los Angeles County Council. In October 1990, Mr. Foster was named the "Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year" by the University of Southern California's School of Business Administration. And, in November 1991, the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles presented Mr. Foster with the "Cornerstone" award for his personal and corporate support of the Mission.

Born and raised in Newberry, MI, Mr. Foster was a graduate of Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in political science. During World War II, he commanded a Navy crew aboard a merchant marine vessel, the S.S.W.W. McCracken.

Mr. Foster is survived by his wife, Gladyce; their five children; 18 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, April 2, 1998, at 11 a.m. at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Mortuary in Glendale, California.