John G. “Jack” Foerst Jr., the father of modern nonprofit fundraising, died Oct. 7 at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill after a massive stroke the week before. He was 89.
He had lived in Manhasset for the past 58 years.
For 60 years he directed fundraising campaigns for charitable organizations nationwide and around the world, and was widely recognized as the most prominent nonprofit fundraiser in America, his family said.
“My father was . . . a leader and an innovator in his industry. But more importantly, he was a true gentleman with a deep devotion to his family and his faith,” said his daughter, Katie Bill of Garden City.
He was instrumental in the growth of numerous Long Island nonprofits, including St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill and an Albertson-based center for people with disabilities. He was a founding member of Catholic Health Services for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and helped develop TeleCare, the Catholic Television Station, they said.
In New York City, he oversaw the fundraising for Fordham University’s Midtown Campus and the construction of the church and residence facilities at St. John’s University in Jamaica, as well as the renovation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Nationally he oversaw the fundraising efforts for the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and numerous other nonprofits, his family said.
He directed one of the earliest diocesan campaigns, leading the Cardinal’s Jubilee for the Archdiocese of Toronto in 1953.
Foerst served as CEO of Community Counseling Services Fundraising in Manhattan from 1969 to 1994, adding chairman to his title in 1976. There he worked in Panama, Bermuda, London, Puerto Rico and Ireland, among other locations, the family said. He was CCSF chairman emeritus until his death.
In 2001, he became a special adviser to the chairman of Changing Our World, an international fundraising consultancy and continued in that role until his death.
He was a past chairman of the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (now the Giving Institute).
At Foerst’s funeral last week, Bishop William Murphy recounted his first meeting with Foerst when Murphy came to Long Island in 2001.
“Jack took out a yellow pad and wrote a list of 50 people I should get to know,” he said.
Foerst grew up in Middle Village, Queens, where he was an accomplished basketball player in high school and later in college. He graduated in 1950 from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in English, and was a devoted alumnus, his family said.
“He not only was in the presence of world leaders, but worked closely with them in advancing causes that lead to better lives throughout the world,” said his daughter. “I would like to think that the popes he worked with were blessed to know him . . . and the presidents and prime ministers, here and abroad, were inspired by his eloquent and humble style of leadership.”
His wife of 58 years, the former Marion Cassidy, died in 2011.
Besides his daughter, he is survived by a son, Jerry, of Fort Salonga; a sister, Catherine Linnehan of Glendale, Queens; and six grandchildren.
He was buried in Locust Valley Cemetery.