Eugene Patrick Foley died on Dec. 30 of natural causes in Whitefish, Mont. with family by his side. He was 87.

Mr. Foley was the eighth born of 10 children of John R. and Ellen (Nellie) Brennan Foley of Wabasha, Minn. His father was a renowned country lawyer and County Attorney. His mother was an indomitable spirit originally from Centralia, Pa. After graduating from St. Felix High School in 1946, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Infantry in Korea until 1948.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from St. Thomas College in St. Paul, where he was elected the Grand Tiger of the Tiger Club and studied abroad for a year at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria. He then earned his Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Minnesota Law School. After passing the Minnesota Bar he entered into the family law firm in Wabasha from 1955 to 1959. In 1954 he married Frances Dillon of St. Paul and they had four children.

Mr. Foley was a longtime senior campaign and policy advisor to Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. He served as one of Mr. Humphrey’s campaign managers in both the famous West Virginia and Wisconsin primaries of 1960. From 1961 to 1963 he was an executive assistant to the Secretary of Commerce. In August 1963 he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to be the national administrator of the Small Business Administration. In this capacity he expanded the role and size of the SBA, created the Service Corps of Retired Professionals (SCORE) and pioneered affirmative action by establishing the Equal Opportunity Loan. In 1965 President Johnson appointed him to be Special Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development to spearhead the Great Society Program of the 1960s. He was a key member of President Johnson’s emergency response team and was prominent in the recovery of Alaska after the great earthquake of 1964 and Louisiana after Hurricane Betsy.

In 1965 he was voted the International Boss of the Year by the National Secretaries Association, for which he was featured on the game show What’s My Line. He was awarded the Arthur Flemming Award, presented to the 10 outstanding people in federal government under the age of 35. In 1966 he won the Government Man of the Year Award from the National Business League.

After leaving government in 1967 he advanced President Johnson’s trips to Australia and the Vatican while writing The Achieving Ghetto, a landmark book promoting urban economic development through jobs for the underprivileged. He was a subject in a number of books, including Oakland’s Not For Burning (1968), The 21st Ballot (1969), Big Government and Affirmative Action (2001), and Business in Black and White (2009) among others.

In 1968 he was Humphrey’s campaign manager in New York, where he moved the family after the presidential election. They lived on Central Park West until 1970 and then moved briefly to Larchmont before settling in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. Mr. Foley was the president of a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum from 1967 to 1969, which took him around the globe meeting world leaders. From 1969 to 1971 he was a vice president at the Dreyfus Corporation. In the early 1970s he started Foley and Associates, a financial consulting firm for small and medium sized companies. He served on many boards, including the African American Institute (1968 to 1991) and was president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy from 1976 to 1981. In the 1990s he returned to Washington D.C., where he lived and worked until 2006 when he moved to Martha’s Vineyard before spending the last four years of his life in Whitefish, Mont.

Genial Gene was a champion of small business throughout his life and was a well-travelled and beloved raconteur. He loved the theatre and was a close friend of many of the actors and directors of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. He loved philosophy, poetry, science and sports. He never stopped learning and audited classes at George Washington University well into his 70s. He was raised a Catholic and was particularly drawn to the philosophy of Teilhard de Chardin, but his daily religion was The New York Times. He loved the Yankees and the Giants and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He was a regular at Toots Shor’s, Sardi’s, P.J. Clarke’s and the Lion’s Head.

For his role in the Humphrey campaigns of 1960 and 1968, Jimmy Breslin described him in an article as “one of these guys who can sit through a meeting with you until 4 a.m. and then be at his desk at 8 a.m. and work through until an hour or so before midnight and then he will meet you for a drink.” Born and raised in a sleepy Mississippi River town of 2,000 he visited all 50 states several times, five continents and over 50 countries. He was a dreamer with a twinkle in his eye but he made big things happen.

He was predeceased by three brothers and two sisters: his sister Mary Ferron of Arlington, Va.; his brother Congressman Jack Foley of Silver Spring, Md.; his brother Judge Daniel Foley, who served on the Minnesota State Court of Appeals and as the National Commander of the American Legion in 1964; his brother Francis; and sister Rose Miller of Rice Lake, Wisc.

He is survived by his wife Frances Dillon Foley of Somers, Mont.; his daughter Annie Foley of Vineyard Haven; his son Bob and his wife Jane of Somers, Mont.; his daughter Margaret Foley of Whitefish, Mont.; his son Paul and his wife Clare of Marion; and his four grandchildren: Dillon, Conor, Abbie, and Ellie Foley. He is also survived by several siblings, including Col. Robert Foley USAF, 97, of St. Paul; Catherine (Cack) Quigley, 95, of St. Paul; Eileen (Sis) Eaves, 92, of Roseville, Minn.; and former U.S. attorney and Judge Patrick Foley, 85, of St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service in his honor will be held in Wabasha, Minn. on April 30. If inclined to make a donation in his honor, the family requests that you support a small business near you.