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Cummings School benefactor, philanthropist dies
North Grafton, Mass. -- Henry L. Foster, DVM, who helped create the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University 30 years ago and funded countless scholarships and programs at the school, died of cancer Oct. 14 at his apartment in Boston.
North Grafton, Mass.
-- Henry L. Foster, DVM, who helped create the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University 30 years ago and funded countless scholarships at the school, died of cancer Oct. 14 at his apartment in Boston.
Dr. Foster began a significant business career shortly after graduating from Middlesex Veterinary College in the 1940s when he decided to go into the business of breeding rats for laboratory research. He founded the Charles River Breeding Laboratories in Boston in 1947 with the goal of supplying the research community with rodents that were free of germs and disease, according to Charles River Laboratories (CRL).
He bought a few thousand rat cases and ran a one-man company, breeding and feeding the animals on his own. By 1955, Dr. Foster moved the laboratory to a ranch house on 42 acres in Wilmington, Mass. With a $100,000 business loan, he started the commercial production of pathogen-free rodents and, by 1961, surpassed $1 million in sales.
In 1965, he opened a germ-free laboratory, the largest one for the production of germ-free and gnotobiotic rodents in the world, according to CRL. The company went international in 1966, with a new facility in France to meet the demand for more than 12,000 rodents per week.
In 1968, the company went public by joining NASDAQ, and began being traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CRL in 2000. The business was named "Company of the Year" by the Boston Globe in 2002, the same year it reached $500 million in annual sales. Net sales in 2006 were reported at $1.06 billion, according to the firm's Web site.
Dr. Foster became involved in many philanthropic efforts outside his business, including contributions to Brandeis University and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In addition to helping in the creation of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 1978, Dr. Foster and his wife, Lois, helped fund many scholarship programs at the school. The couple also provided the lead gift for a $3.25 million expansion at the veterinary college hospital, which was completed in 2004 and earned the Fosters naming rights, transforming the hospital into the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals.
Dr. Foster also served on the university's board of trustees for six years.
"Dr. Foster was truly the heart and soul of the school of veterinary medicine at Tufts University," says Cummings School Dean Deborah Kochevar. "He touched nearly every element of our school with his thoughtful guidance and generous support."
Besides his wife, Dr. Foster is survived by sons Jim, John and Neal. The family requests that memorial contributions be directed to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.