John Edward Foster was born near Warrenton, North Carolina on a tobacco farm on August 16th, 1934 to parents, John King Foster and Lelia Manning Foster. He grew up in a Christian home with his parents and sister, Ruth, who was 2 ½ years older.
He attended Albion Academy High School. He often boasted of graduating 4th in his class. (The class consisted of only 26 students.) As a little boy, his only ambition was to be able to handle a mule and plow like his dad.
However, he was mentored by his uncle, George Manning, who encouraged John to enroll in the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (North Carolina A&T) majoring in carpentry. After discovering issues in squaring aboard, he changed majors to Chemistry and ultimately obtained a Bachelor of Science degree.
John was drafted into the Army and was assigned to a medical unit at Fort Lewis in Washington State. He worked as a medical laboratory specialist at Madigan Army Hospital near Tacoma Washington. There in Tacoma, he met a “very special person,” Lillie Carter.
A few months after being discharged from the service, he married that special lady and has been married to her for 61 years. Together they had three children, Jeffrey, Anthony, and Sonya, 3 grandchildren, Justin, Jazzmyn, and Dejan, and two great-grandchildren, Declan Reid, and Nolan John.
In the 1950s, a friend invited John to a Toastmasters meeting. He learned that this was an effective and inexpensive means of improving communication and leadership skills. John was an active member of Toastmasters for greater than 50 years. He was responsible for or took part in, the formation of 25+ Toastmasters clubs. He has served on the International Board of Directors for this organization which includes around 16,000 clubs in 143 countries throughout the world.
He worked at Kawecki Chemical Company as an analytical chemist and was promoted to Supervisor and Chief Chemist. The company became a part of Cabot Corporation and John became Director of Continuous Improvement for Cabot Performance Materials in Boyertown Pennsylvania.
At the age of 47, John became a long-distance runner. He was never involved in running before that point. Not having a sense of moderation, he announced his intention of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon at age 50. His running friends thought this was an impossibility and treated it as great humor. John accomplished this goal and ran the Boston Marathon 3 times- the first time at the age of 50 years old.
John was an actor and participated in many theatrical productions, mostly in Reading, Pennsylvania. Many of these were plays written by the late August Wilson. He played a key role in a production of the "Piano Lesson" at the Steele River Theatre in Pottstown.
John was also a Big Brother in the Big Brother program in Pottstown. He became a big brother to a 7-year-old little boy in 1971 and remained in close contact until the death of the Little Brother in 2020.
John grew up in the Black church as a child and continued to attend service into his adulthood. After his discharge from the military, he became a member of a Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He later joined Washington Presbyterian Church in Reading, where he served as an Elder. He later became a Lay Leader of the Lehigh Presbytery, followed by the Chairman of the Council for the Lehigh Presbytery. John and his wife Lillie decided to affiliate with Bethel Community Church in Pottstown where they have been current members.
John declared that he had a good life and To God Be the Glory!
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