Who is Charles Foulke Jr. ?
Charles Foulke Jr. grew up as poor as a rat in the Cramer Hill section of Camden. He could’ve lived his life bitterly cursing the extreme poverty he found himself in. But instead, gratitude and giving back became part of who he was. After all, his grandparents, who had 12 children, devoted their love, time, and effort into raising him and instilling a sense of duty.
When Charlie was old enough and in gratitude for what his grandparents and his country done on his behalf, he joined the United States Army and served in the Korean War. But no amount of pride, patriotism, and youthful idealism quite prepared him for what he saw. He discovered first-hand how cruel and savage combat could become.
He found himself fortunate enough to return from armed conflict. But even his idealism would not leave him entirely unscathed. As he would later accept, that he became “off balance.” Only drink offered solace for his unsettled soul. His few soothing sips soon spiraled into a pool for drowning. Out of familial concern and perhaps hoping that a boy tough enough to survive a war could eventually conquer his demons, his uncle found him a job doing all the jobs nobody else wanted to do at a used car dealership.
As a lot boy, Charlie picked up more than car parts, dirty rags, and cigarette butts. He eventually advanced to becoming a car salesman. By 1967, he’d amassed enough sales savvy that Dodge awarded him his first franchise. Other dealership grants followed for well-known brands like Audi, Chevrolet, Chrysler, FIAT, Jeep, KIA, RAM, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen. He now owns Cherry Hill Triplex, an auto dealership that spans 15 franchises over 10 locations in the South Jersey area.
As for that first retail effort, Cherry Hill Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM still serves the surrounding communities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware with a large selection of new and used inventory. Its attention to customer satisfaction still makes it a national sales volume dealer. Even at the ripe age of 80-plus years, Charlie finds value in being industrious. He still heads for the dealership every day, instilling the values and sense of duty in his staff that he inherited from his grandparents and cultivated in the armed forces.
His involvement with the auto industry didn’t start and end with successful selling. As a way to give back to the passion that sustained him and his family, he served for 30 years on the dealer council of Chrysler Corporation. He relied on his industry knowledge, life lessons, and plain old stick-to-itiveness to help steer the auto manufacturing giant through its turbulent later history, including the 2009 bankruptcy, subsequent reorganization, lengthy rebuilding, and current success. He often acted as the go-to guy that brought together members of the vast dealer network, the besieged factory, and government at all levels so they could hash out a successful and ultimately profitable strategy. Many dealers point to him as a source of inspiration and guidance through troubled times.
Charlie’s full life benefited more than his businesses and work colleagues, as evidenced by numerous awards from various organizations. He still found time to raise a family, which now numbers two children and four grandkids. Despite his less-than-flawless return from the Korean War, he never forgot the enduring lessons he learned from the Army. He recently hailed that military education by hosting a medal ceremony at his Cherry Hill Dodge showroom for a local WWII veteran, Edward Martino, a Purple Heart recipient who was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge on that snowy day in March 1945.
Over a hundred friends, family, well-wishers and local media paid tribute to Martino with Charlie’s dealership content to remain as background support. Nevertheless, recognizing his efforts to create a business culture that values and support military service and sacrifice, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program, a volunteer Department of Defense organization, honored Charlie with another award.
It’s no surprise that Charlie has devoted just as much time and energy to his community. He once played baseball at the Cramer Hills Boys Club in Camden. Remembering that happy time in his life, he gladly accepted the dedication of Foulke Field from what was formerly Cherry Hill West Babe Ruth’s home field. Thanks to a generous donation from his son, Charles Foulke III, the old location ascended into a field of dreams. Where once a lumpy outfield and ratty infield led to numerous sprained ankles and other sports injuries at every season, the diamond now sports new sod, rebuilt dugouts, and an impressive scoreboard right over center field.
All play and no work make Jack a dull student. So as part of his ongoing commitment to learning, Charlie gave $15,000 to the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, which is committed to enhancing the quality of public school education for children in the Township of Cherry Hill.
Charlie continues to meet the challenges of life head-on. He ranks as a generous supporter of The Cooper Foundation, the philanthropic, outreach, and community development branch of the Cooper Health System. He lauds its MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper as taking care of his long-time friend, Cherry Hill Councilman, John Amato, whom he has known for over 40 years.
That devotion paid Charlie back when he was recently admitted to the same center. He beams that he was accommodated “like the President of the United States. Everyone was great.” Always looking for a good opportunity, he adds, “And I sold some cars while I was there.”