In Memoriam - Spring 2015

Spring 2015 In Memoriam

ERA mourns …

… the passing in mid-January of Eugene A. (Gene) Foster, an ERA Hall of Fame member and second-generation rep who grew the Mel Foster Company, founded by his father, into one of the electronics industry’s most respected firms. He was 82. In addition to the prestigious Hall of Fame Award, he was also the recipient of ERA’s Honor and Key Awards as well as a White Pin member. He was a graduate of the University of Minnesota and a U.S. Army lieutenant who served two years in Germany. When he retired from the rep business in 1999, he and his wife Bridgette built a successful real estate business in southwest Florida.

ERA CEO, Tom Shanahan says of Foster, “Gene was an admired educator about the rep function who used his vision, creativity and innovative thinking to become a role model for and treasured mentor to countless reps, including Mike Swenson, CPMR, now the president of the Mel Foster Company, as well as Mike’s team and many other reps across the nation. Quite simply, we’ve lost a giant.” In addition to his wife, survivors include six children, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Memorial donations can be made to the First Baptist Academy, 3000 Orange Blossom Dr., Naples, FL 34109.

… the loss in mid-February of Robert W. (Bob) Parsons, the long-time manager of Northern California ERA and editor of the Rep Talk newsletter. He was 90. After retiring from his rep firm, his management of the Northern California chapter of ERA and publication of Rep Talk were marked by his photo chronicles of countless ERA and industry events, including ERA conferences. He was a Life Member of ERA and was inducted into the White Pin Group in 2005.

… the March 1 passing of Hector LaChappelle, formerly of the Canadian rep firm Haltronics, Ltd., in Oakville, Ont. He was 75. Survivors include his wife Noreen, two children and four grandchildren. Gerald Newman, ERA’s legal counsel, says, “He was always optimistic, uplifting, creative and could sell ice in the winter. {He was} a great supporter of the rep system of going to market in the electronics industry.”

… the death in early January of Joe Valentine, whose rep firm Valentine Associates of Greenwood, Ind., was a 25-year member of ERA. He was 92. He began his career working for R. O. Whitesell & Associates and then established his own firm which he managed until his retirement in 1993. He was a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped free U.S. airmen who were imprisoned in the Dulag-Luft POW camp in Wexlar, Germany. Memorial donations can be made to: the Joe Valentine Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Office of Development, 5500 Wabash Ave., Terre Haute, IN 47803; the Greenwood Public Library (; or United Service Organizations (

… the loss in mid-January of Jo-Ann MacInnis, the wife of Norm MacInnis, CPMR, who is now retired from the MacInnis Company and serving as the manager of New England ERA. Her brother-in-law, Ron MacInnis, CPMR, says, “She fought a long and brave battle with cancer.” Memorial donations can be made to the Nottingham Community Church, 108 Church St., Nottingham, NH 03290.