December 14, 1868 - 1944
|We sometime liken preachers to Bible characters. We say—”He is the St. John or the St.
Paul of the Louisiana Conference, he is an impulsive Peter or he is a doubting Thomas.” Whenever I associated with John Foster or even thought of him, the descriptive words that Jesus used always came to my mind—”An Israelite in whom there is no guile.”
John Foster was a prince. He evidently sowed no wild oats. He was as pure as a lily. His character was above reproach. In appearance he was a regular Apollo. His friends referred to him affectionately as “Handsome John.” He was tall and stately. He had winsome eyes and a ruddy complexion. His physical appearance made him conspicuous in any company. The stranger would always select him as chief. Messenger boys with telegrams for the Bishop would invariably go to Foster’s desk during the Conference sessions. He not only looked the part of dignity and prominence, but his intellectual ability and sterling character stamped him as such.
Dr. Foster was educated at Tulane University. He received his D. D. degree from Centenary College. He was a student all his life. He was well informed on almost any subject. He was widely read and possessed a great fund of exact information he had secured in his journeys throughout the world. His information was so wide and so exact that he could give an hour’s lecture on some historic vase or memorial window. He was especially versed in Bible history and the Holy Land. He was a conversa-tionalist of rare ability.
Dr. Foster was born in New Orleans on December 14, 1868. He came of noble parentage. His father was the honorable W. H. Foster of the firm of Merrick, Race, and Foster; his mother was Miss Virginia Victoria Pettit of Vicksburg. These fine people were members of the historic Felicity Methodist Church and rendered a great service in it and through it. Dr. Foster was brought up in this church and knew no other until he joined the Louisiana Conference. With a just pride he claimed such men as Bishop McTyeire, Bishop Linus Parker and Dr. John Matthews as his pastors.
When he was a young man of twenty-three years of age, he joined the Masonic lodge in Arcadia, Louisiana, and remained an active member of it until the day of his death. For many years he served as Grand Chap-lain of the Grand Lodge of the State and was finally made Grand Chap-lain Emeritus the class received into the Scottish Rite Lodge this last Spring voted to name the class—”The John F. Foster Class” and to found a memorial in the Shrine Hospital in his honor. He received many honors at the hands of the Masons of the State, all of which indicate the high esteem in which he was held by this fraternal order.
He joined the Louisiana Conference in December 1888, and served in the active ranks of the itinerancy for forty-six years. His first appointment was Simmesport and his last was Ferriday. During his forty-six years in the active work of the Conference he served as pastor in every section of the State and in every District of the Conference. Among the churches he served were: Second Church, St. Marks, Carrollton Avenue, Algiers, and Felicity, his old home church.
Dr. Foster had the unique distinction of serving on one Board of the Conference—the Board of Finance and much of that time as president— for forty years. This tenure of service on one Board, as far as I know, established the top record in our Conference. He must have done his work well. How often did we hear him make the earnest appeal in behalf of the superannuated preacher! He certainly had a warm place in the hearts of all the old preachers.
Noteworthy in the work of his ministry was the emphasis he gave to the pastorate. He visited
“from house to house.” He never neglected people when they were in trouble. He was often in the hospitals and in the homes of the sick. He was truly a good pastor. He was noted also for the attention he gave to the children and young people. All the chil-dren in the church and in the neighborhood knew him and loved him. His friendship with the children was abiding. He did not forget them, nor did they forget him in the passing years. They always wanted him in time of sorrow and happiness. He had the reputation of performing more wedding ceremonies than any other preacher in the State. His sym-pathetic attitude towards youth, in a large measure, accounted for his popularity.
On February 9, 1933, Dr. Foster was married to Mrs. Hattie Theus Singleton, widow of the late Rev. Hampton R. Singleton of the Louisiana and St. Louis Conferences. On his retirement in 1934, he became a resident of Shreveport where he resided until his death. He was buried from the First Methodist Church, with Dr. Dana Dawson and Dr. A. M. Freeman conducting the service. His body was laid to rest in the cemetery in Arcadia by the loving hands of his Masonic brethren. Surviving him are his widow, one niece, Mrs. Cora Foster Sims of Birmingham, Ala., and one nephew, Horace F. Foster of New Orleans. He lived well. He rendered a faithful service. “He allured to better worlds and led the way.”
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 83-84, 1944 by W. W. Holmes|