Eddie Foy III felt so at home in Denison that he and his wife, Jan, moved from southern California earlier this year to make their permanent residence in the community.
Foy was a casting director for hundreds of television shows that became ingrained in the social consciousness in America, among them “The Donna Reed Show,” which starred the Denison native by the same name.
He was also the national talent executive for the Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Telethon, and he was honored by the Academy of Television Arts and Science, Archives Division, as Outstanding Casting Director of the last 42 years for his contributions to the Advancement of Television Casting.
On Saturday, November 3, Foy died at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, where he had been hospitalized after suffering a fall at his home about two weeks ago. He was 83 years old.
Since moving to Denison on March 8, Foy became a regular at businesses that he frequented when he was able to visit only once a year during the Donna Reed Festival and Workshops.
Among his old favorites were Reynold’s Clothing and Cronk’s Café. After moving to Denison, he found a new favorite, The Junkery.
And, of course, he spent hours at the Donna Reed Foundation office, located at the corner of Broadway and South Main.
It was through the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts that Foy became acquainted and then fell in love with Denison. He was invited to teach workshops at the festival.
In an interview this summer with the Denison Bulletin and Review, Foy explained when he first thought about moving to Denison.
“I thought about it since first time I came here in 1994, before Jan came here,” he said. “I came here just to look at what they were doing with the Donna Reed Foundation because they asked me to teach, and I kept saying to myself, ‘This is a place I think I’d like to live.’
“It was an instant love affair with this town,” he added.
After Foy and Jan met in 1995, she accompanied him on his trips to Denison every summer that the Donna Reed Foundation hosted the festival and workshops.
“Most of it was getting away from the rat race,” said Jan. “When we drove from airport to here, we both were quiet. We looked at each other and said it’s so green so refreshing. All of our stress just went away and was so much fun to be here.”
Foy was the third generation in a show business family. He was the son of Eddie Foy, Jr., an actor also know for being one of the “Seven Little Foys” of Eddie Foy (Sr.) and the Seven Little Foys.
Foy said he came to Denison the first time out of respect for Donna Reed and her husband, Tony Owen, who he said were integral in any success he had in a career as a casting director, although Foy always insisted that it was not a job but a hobby.
“I just credit the fact that my hobby was verified when I got here because of the two people I adored in my casting travels, and that was Donna Reed and Tony Owen,” he said. “I saw what they were doing with kids, how they presented and respected Donna and Tony.”
Jan was retiring from her job in sales in February this year and she and Foy were looking for places that offered a reasonable cost of living.
“We were concerned about moving to a small town somewhere where we didn’t know anybody, although Eddie is quick to make friends, and I am, too,” Jan said. “And then Denison came up and we both just said, ‘There you go.’”
“To this day I say that my career got the boost it needed from Donna Reed and Tony Owen when Donna said to her director, ‘Listen to him. Tony and I trust this man.’ That was the first time I ever heard that and I have never forgotten her for that,” Eddie said.
A service for Foy will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at his former church in Corona, California. Another service will take place in Los Angeles.
In Denison, a celebration of life for Foy will take place sometime after Thanksgiving.