Bob was born to Hazel W. and E. Russell Foster in Elyria, Ohio. He graduated from Elyria High School and received a B.S. in Commerce from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1960. After OU, Bob moved to Sacramento, CA to work for Aerojet General preparing proposals to the U.S. military and foreign governments for the purchase of rocket motors.
In 1963, at the urging of a close friend, Bob left Aerojet for Washington, DC, where he began more than 30 years of dedicated and significant public service. Spending six years at the Small Business Administration before heading to Capitol Hill, Bob worked for the United States Congress for more than 25 years on the Appropriations Committee of the US House of Representatives. He was appointed to the Committee by Chairman George Mahon in May 1969, with an assignment to the Defense Subcommittee. He was then assigned to the Agriculture Subcommittee in 1972 and served as Staff Director from 1975 until he retired from the Hill in 1994.
Always nonpartisan and always a gentleman, Bob’s strength of character and his commitment to public service were unwavering. Well respected by Republican, Democrat and Independent Members of Congress, Bob’s counsel was relied upon with confidence and trust.
In 1996, Bob opened the legislative consulting firm of Bob Foster & Associates after being associated with the Washington legislative law firm of Whitten & Diamond. He also served for six years as a Delegate to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and was appointed to the Agricultural Advisory Committee by the US Secretary of Agriculture and the US Trade Representative.
When Bob finally retired in 1999, he and his wife, Jean, moved to Naples, Florida, where he could pursue his lifelong passion for golf, which began in high school. He liked to say that he “unfortunately learned that playing golf for over 60 years didn’t necessarily mean you get any better”. But that did not stop him from “suiting up” for the golf course at any chance he could get – rain or shine or in some cases light snow. Bob and Jean were members of Wyndemere Country Club in Naples, FL and Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, VA.
Bob was a student of American history and a voracious reader. Another one of Bob’s great pastimes was genealogical research. He traced his Foster family lineage back to the 700s and was a significant contributor to various genealogy research sites. Bob had an extraordinary memory for facts, numbers and details and would amaze people with quotes of fiction and fact from “Foster’s Almanac”. And, as his colleagues and friends can attest, he was a great storyteller. A similarly inspiring interest of Bob’s was beekeeping. At one point, during World War II, he helped his father maintain 400 beehives.
During a chance meeting at The Guards in Georgetown, Bob met the love of his life, Jean. They have been married for 48 wonderful years during which they shared their love of sailing, golf and worldwide travel in a series they called “Bob and Jean’s Great Adventures.” Within the past few years, Bob and Jean discovered and enjoyed the comforts of cruising. Their last great travel adventure occurred just months before the COVID pandemic and took them to the Middle East.
Bob is survived by his wife, Jean, of 48 years and a son Robert Benton Foster, Jr. of Woodland Park, CO from a previous marriage.
A special thank you to everyone at McKenney Home Care for their daily homecare support and help over the last two years, as well as Empath Home Health, which provided outstanding nursing services. Also, sincere appreciation to AVOW Hospice who provided guidance and loving care in Bob’s final days.
A gathering and visitation will be at Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens on December 16th from 4 pm to 6 pm. A gathering to honor and celebrate Bob’s life will be held at a future date. Donations in his memory may be sent to AVOW Hospice, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105.