May 6, 1927 Front page news story about William A. Foor, 'THE TIMES', Canal Winchester, Ohio.


Colonel William Foor One of the Foremost Hotel Men. Manager of Twelve Large Hotels in the East and South.

"Faith and Initiative, rightly combined, remove mountainous barriers and achieve the unheard of an Miraculous". Henry Chester. There could be no better introduction to Colonel William Foor and his colorful career than these few words quoted above. For in his unswerving faith and boundless initiative is the secret of his rise from a humble birthplace near Canal Winchester to his present countrywide leadership in his chosen profession. A native of Canal Winchester, where he spent his boyhood, the Colonel has done the most of any of our citizens to carry its name to the four corners of the United States. Today, as president of the Foor and Robinson Company, he is the owner and supervising director of 10 of the leading hotels of the country conservatively valued at more than $15,000.000. A few days ago came the climax of his career, when he accepted the managing directorship of the new $4,000,000 Leverich Towers Hotel, located in the exclusive Brooklyn Heights section of New York City.

It is difficult to conceive this smiling, unpretentious Colonel "Bill" as the friend and daily associate of leaders in all walks of life, or as the intimate of famous and noted personages of the day. To know him now is to realize that he is the same friendly, unassuming Colonel "Bill" of twenty years ago. Fame and fortune have brought no changes in his gracious manners, or a speck of coldness in the jovial twinkle of his eyes. Interwoven in his fascinating life story is an inherent pride in his "home spun" birth-rights and a love for "the old home town" that brings him back, three or four times yearly, from far points of the world, to the cherished friends and scenes in Franklin and Fairfield counties. Quietly he returns and one does not know of his presence until greeted with a cheery "hello, there", and turns to feel the warm handclasp of the ruddy-cheeked Colonel "Bill". Or one may be strolling by the home of his sister, Mrs. Dan Alspaugh, located at Trine and Waterloo Streets, and perchance see him wielding a vigorous hoe on the intruding weeds in the garden. The next day he is likely to be many miles away, planning the final details in the purchase of a new million-dollar hotel. So in the final explanation of Colonel Foor's amazing success, a third decisive factor should be added to his faith and initiative. That is, a "real wool, yard wide, regard for his fellow men, evidenced in his continued affection for the humble friends and scenes of his early days. It was this same homely spirit and attitude, if you will remember, that amplified the greatness of the martyred Abraham Lincoln, the Great Commoner.

In reciting the history of Colonel William Foor, it is better to first turn the pages back to the dusty past of a half-century ago. A lad, whose mere five feet in height belied his fifteen years, stood on the wind-swept platform of Canal Winchester's lone railroad station in the dusk of a wintry evening in 1877. The last local Hocking Valley train of the day had just departed, and the sole employee designated variously as ticket agent, station master, information bureau and occasional porter, extinguished the lone flickering of light, slammed the door, locked it, and started homeward. He glanced at the boy; a dim figure completely engulfed in a shoe length overcoat, an inheritance apparently designed for a much huskier build. No one else was in sight. For it was bitter cold and warm fires and the smell of appetizing food had drawn the other inhabitants to their family circles. But the day's work was not done for the little chap there on the platform. He stood, calmly surveying a packing crate that towered on a level with his man-sized coonskin hat. Then he turned for a moment estimating the distance to the one-horse dray, backed against the platform. The shaking and creaking of the crate that followed indicated his optimistic anticipation of loading it on the dray. Fact was he knew it must be loaded. Not only that, but after a drive down the dark road, must again be unloaded at its destination. There would be a reward of 25 cents to be slipped into his hand, not to be spent on candy or trifles but to be carried home to help buy the daily needs. "That's a purty big load you have there, Billy," said the stationmaster, as he passed. The boy did not cease his struggles but answered, laconically, "Yup. But I think I can make it."

Once more we bring you to the present year of 1927. Fifty years have elapsed and the scene shifts to New York City. The self-same lad, now a grown man, is seated in conference with a group of millionaire financiers. He is the owner and director of ten magnificent hotels in various centers of the country, a millionaire in his own right, and known from coast to coast. He has just been offered the managing directorship of one of New York City's finest hotels, a structure designed to be outstanding in this center of the world's most costly and famed hostelries. A personal representative of the group before him, operators of the new hotel, has traveled 400 miles into the far South to bring him to New York. The group plainly shows elation when he accepts their offer. The lad of that distant day in 1877 was little Billy Foor, of Canal Winchester. The grown man is Colonel William Foor, and proudly, if you please, stills of Canal Winchester. In the years between is the story of how he "made it". Colonel Foor was born on the 18th day of January 1861, in Fairfield County, about one mile from Canal Winchester on the old Moore estate that faces the Lancaster Pike. A grandfather, Daniel Foor had been one of the early settlers. His father was born here and spent his life in this area, first on the farm and later as a resident of Canal Winchester. His Mother, Sarah Foor, remembered by many older residents through her long years in Canal Winchester, was known far and wide as "Aunt Sarah" because of her friendly and kindly personality. Both were buried upon later death, side by side, in the family plot in the Canal Winchester Cemetery.

The oldest of eleven children, it early devolved upon Colonel Foor to assist in the manifold duties of the farm. In the good times of rare frequency, when he could be spared, he trudged a mile-long journey through the muddy fields to the closest little red schoolhouse, where he learned the rudiments of the "three R's-Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic." His education continued a few weeks of each year for three years, and then was stopped as the demands of the farm called for all of his time. But for many years after he remembered Mandy Schoch, his teacher and when she later removed to Canal Winchester as the wife of George F. Bareis, the lumberman, he often called to renew old friendships. Her father was for many years the proprietor of the Schoch Hotel that stood by the canal toe-path and was a favorite stopping place during those days. When Colonel Foor was fifteen years of age, the family moved to Canal Winchester and took up their residence in an old frame house that stood on the corner of Trine and Waterloo Streets. Since that time, the Alspaugh's have replaced the old home with a modern new structure. Another sister, Mrs. Mary Boyd, wife of Reuben Boyd, lives nearby on Trine Street. It was at the age of 15 that Colonel Foor first started his career as an active, if under-sized, drayman. This was but one of his many duties with which he busied himself to add funds to the family coffers. The majority of his working days were confined to shelling corn at 40 cents a day at O.P. Chaney's granary, with part-time handy work put in at Game Brothers, at that time the largest general notion store in Canal Winchester, which later was burned to the ground. With these manifold tasks he busied himself until he was 25 years of age when he felt the urge to seed his fortunes in the outside world. So after much family council, he bade his folks and friends goodbye and departed for Dayton, Ohio, accompanied by six other Winchester boys, to go into the hedge and wire fence business. It is interesting to note that even at this pioneer period in his career, his leadership characteristics were noted as he was immediately named foreman in charge of his half-dozen town mates. Months of traveling over the farmlands of Ohio and neighboring states followed, and the young recruits under the guidance of their leader installed, built and located endless miles of new fences. A happy choice of work it was for young Foor as it led him into Morganfield, Ky., and to a certain hotel, where he met Miss Margaret Duval, daughter of the proprietor. A romance began at once, and their marriage followed shortly afterward. With the money he had thriftily saved from his small earnings, he joined in partnership with his father-in-law as his initial adventure in hotel ownership. They first procured ownership of the Parson's House of Morganfield, and soon after, under the industrious management of the young man, secured sufficient funds to purchase controlling interest in the Walker House of the same town, thereby controlling the only hotels in this community.

It was not an auspicious start. At that time Morganfield was no more than a sprawling village of about 1,000 people, hidden away more than 40 miles from a town of superior size, Evansville, Indiana. Hotels of those days were equally primitive as the homes. Guests arrived in stagecoaches that traveled on scheduled time only if the cement-like clay of the Kentucky roads became lenient enough to let them through. Upon their arrival they were escorted by a dusky man-of-all-work up gloomy stairs, with no elevators to ease the way, into a bare room, that was never to know the warming heat of steam radiators. A straw mattress invited little sleep, while candles and coal oil lamps provided what meager light there was to be had. With running water still a thing of the distant future and bathrooms unknown, toilet installments were available only from the porcelain pitcher, which was filled once a day with fresh water. At meal times, the guest joined other temporary members of the hotel family at one long table, where the call to "pitch in" was the signal for a mutual helping and passing of the viands that were heaped democratically in the center of the table. The one bright note in this drab picture, however, is that guests received one night's lodging and three meals for the price of one dollar.

For four years Colonel Foor went through the arduous training that was to prepare him for promotion, acting as manager, clerk, bellboy, steward and in sundry other capacities called for. At the end of this time, he made his next forward step by taking over the Barret House in Henderson, Ky., a town of 5,000, forming a partnership known as Hughes & Foor. Two years later he transferred his activities to Owensboro, KY, a town of 15,000 population, where he took over the Rudd House and the old Planter House. So successful was his management of these two hotels, that in 1890, while still in his late twenties, he first ventured into metropolitan hotel circles. Journeying to Indianapolis, he became owner of the old Grand Hotel, located near the Union Depot. Here he began building up an enviable trade among the traveling public, and soon made his house a rendezvous for traveling salesmen from all parts of the country. Prosperity followed and his reputation as a hotel manager became so outstanding that he was named as Commissary General on the staff of Governor Mathews, with the title of Colonel, which post he retained for four years.

A success while still a young man, the future looked dazzling bright for Colonel Foor. Then one of those unfortunate business depressions swept the country, and hundreds of salesmen were called in from the road. The Colonel suddenly found a prosperous business reversing to huge daily losses. He kept up the unequal struggle as long as his funds lasted and then was compelled to call it quits. Barely thirty years of age, when the average young man is just building for the future, Colonel Foor found himself penniless and with as little worldly goods as he had when a mere boy. He retired from the hotel field and returned to the fence business. It is again interesting to note that the same firm that had originally hired him in his first venture from home welcomed him back.

The call of the hotel world was too strong, however, and a year later he accepted the managership of the famous new Southern Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. For two years he remained here and then returned to Indianapolis, first associating with the Charlemont Hotel, and then as proprietor of the old Imperial, which he retained until 1906. In this year he moved to Macon, GA, as manager of the Lanier Hotel, under the part ownership of his brother, Chester C. Foor. A year later he leased the old Duval Hotel at Jacksonville, Florida, where he was located for eight years. Notwithstanding the similarity of the name, the hotel had not been owned by any relatives of Mr. Foor's wife. In 1910, with the purchase of the Aragon Hotel, at Jacksonville, he acquired the first of his present extensive chain of hotels. Still holding this ownership, he remained for two years in Atlanta, GA, as manager of the Kimbal House, which he was compelled to resign in order to direct his own interests. Six years later, in 1916, he bought the newly built Hotel Cleveland at Spartansburg, NC, which he opened in 1917. It was this hotel that was to bring him his greatest returns to date, and to spread his fame as a manager. When war was declared, Camp Wadsworth was established nearby and the regiments of the 27th Division, composed entirely of New York residents were encamped here. Among the officers and personnel of this famous division were the scions of many of the foremost society leaders of New York City. Their families took up residences at the Hotel Cleveland and in the months that followed, Colonel Foor played host and became a personal friend to such traditionally noted families as the Goulds, the Vanderbilts and others. Generals, Governors, Cabinet members and other outstanding figures of the day made the Hotel Cleveland the common meeting place for their activities, and the fame of the hostelry and its proprietor spread to distant cities. Being one of the first to realize the opportunities of the new South, that were yet to come, Colonel Foor soon acquired in rapid succession the controlling interest in the O. Henry, at Greensboro, NC; the Sheraton, at High Point, NC; The Charlotte, Charlotte, NC; The Francis Marion, Charleston, SC; The George W. Vanderbilt, Ashville, NC and the John Sevier, Johnson City, TN. Shortly after he came north and acquired controlling interest in the George Washington, Washington, PA; The Cumberland, Bridgeton, NJ, and the Garfield Grant, Long Branch, NJ. His acceptance of the managership of the Leverich Towers Hotel in New York City, while still retaining his other interests, is his latest move to the top of his profession. And now reviewing this absorbing career of our own Colonel William Foor, one thought recurs vividly. That is - if Colonel "Bill" were to lose, tomorrow, all of his prestige and wealth, he would find that he had just as many friends as ever. After all, we venture to impose that is the true test of any man, and the real success of Colonel "Bill".