Carl F. Foreman Sr., a longtime Catholic Relief Services worker whose career took him from managing a fleet of trucks in Sierra Leone to work as an advocate on Capitol Hill, died Monday at St. Agnes Hospital of a heart attack.
The Hunting Ridge resident was 65.
"People are walking around kind of stunned by his death," said Richard Balmadier, director of planned giving at Catholic Relief Services. "Carl was so full of life and vivacious. He dropped by not long ago, and I asked him how he was enjoying retirement, and he said he loved it. His death has left us gob-smacked."
"I have known Carl for more than 30 years, and he has always been a very enthusiastic and positive person," said Jim O'Connor, CRS director of risk management and staff security. "He was a very outgoing guy and knew so many people in the organization."
The son of farmers Joseph B. Foreman and Evelyina Foreman, Carl Franklyn Foreman Sr. was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, S.C., the fifth of 10 children. He graduated from Laing High School in Charleston, where he drove a school bus each day before attending classes.
In 1973, he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Barber Scotia College in Concord, N.C.
That year, he moved to New York City, where two of his sisters were living in the Bronx. After working as a cabdriver, he joined Catholic Relief Services as a financial analyst.
While on his first foreign assignment in Sierra Leone in 1977, he met and fell in love with Marie Agli, a Sierra Leone native. They were married at New York's City Hall in 1979.
"That's when I first met Carl, in Sierra Leone. He was very hardworking and in charge of a fleet of trucks that delivered food," said Dave Piraino, retired CRS director of human services.
"We were both new to CRS at the time," he said. "He was very interested in CRS' work and the culture and people of Sierra Leone."
From 1978 to 1982, Mr. Foreman traveled the world for Catholic Relief Services as a senior internal auditor. In 1982, he became the representative for Tanzania, and three years later for Ghana as well.
"He was an auditor when I first met him, and he made sure we were following all the regulations and programs," Mr. O'Connor said. "He was a very happy and good person to work with."
In 1989, Mr. Foreman was assigned to CRS' new headquarters in Baltimore after it had relocated from New York City.
He was budget director from 1989 to 1997, then became a legislative affairs associate and conducted a range of advocacy efforts with staff, Congress and the White House to advance international development and social justice in some of the world's poorest countries. He represented CRS on Capitol Hill and with advocacy coalitions until 2003.
In 1999, Mr. Foreman was named CRS Employee of the Year.
Mr. Foreman finished his career working in planned giving. He retired last year.
During his nearly four-decade career, Mr. Foreman's work took him around the world, visiting dozens of countries on five continents, including 17 countries in Africa.
"He got to know people in government, the church and the Peace Corps, and was an overall inspiration to so many people," said Mr. Piraino.
Mr. Balmadier called Mr. Foreman "one of the warmest, nicest guys you could ever meet."
"Carl had an interesting career. He was well-rounded and committed to the work the CRS does, to which he brought his depth of experience. He believed in its mission and had a heart of gold," he said.
He said Mr. Foreman was always involved in CRS' annual Dragon Boat races in the Inner Harbor, which raises money for the charity.
"Giving back to the community was extremely important to him," Mr. Balmadier said.
"One thing Carl and I had in common was that we were both members if the CRS golf team, and we made everyone else look good," Joseph Chamberlin, a Baltimore writer and retired CRS manager, said with a laugh.
During his college days, Mr. Foreman had joined Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and was active in its Baltimore alumni chapter.
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He was a Freemason and a member of King David Lodge No. 18. He was also a member of St. William of York Roman Catholic Church in Hunting Ridge.
Though he lived in Baltimore for 27 years, Mr. Foreman still considered Charleston home and would visit there whenever he could, family members said.
"He was a true Renaissance man, world traveler, entertainer and family man," his son, Carl F. "CJ" Foreman Jr. of Brooklyn, N.Y., wrote in an email. "He was always at the center of a good party, and he took his hospitality very seriously. He loved seafood, cooking and educating anyone who would listen on the virtues of the continent of Africa."
He added: "Above all else, he loved helping people. It was his calling and the theme of his life."
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Charleston.
In addition to his wife of 37 years and his son, Mr. Foreman is survived by five brothers, Joseph C. Foreman, Michael Foreman, Jackie Foreman Presley Foreman and Ulysses Foreman, all of Charleston; and three sisters, Mary Jackson, Yvonne Foreman and Sharon McGee, all of Charleston. Another son, David Austin Robinson, died in November, and a sister, Louise Frazier also preceded him in death.