Colleen Victoria Foster
March 3, 1990 – December 31, 2019
Colleen Victoria Foster, born March 3, 1990 in Arlington, Virginia, passed into God’s arms there on December 31, 2019. She is survived and beloved by her parents, David and Martha Foster; her brother, Kenneth, and his fiancé, Michelle Wei; grandmothers Frances Tyahla and Hazel Foster; uncles and aunts Carolyn Foster Goolsby (Danny), Mary Foster Pennoyer (Ken), Mark Foster, Martha Foster, Tim Tyahla (Linda), and David Tyahla (Lizbet); and cousins Kathleen Goolsby, Andrew Tyahla, Megan Tyahla, and Ben Tyahla. Family and friends will celebrate Colleen’s life on February 29, 2020 at 2 p.m. at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church.
“How do you measure a life,” asks one of Colleen’s favorite songs from the musical “Rent.” To borrow the answer from the song’s title, by “Seasons of Love.” Colleen loved so many things and so many people.
Colleen loved the theater, from musicals to drama. Blessed with stage presence and a beautiful singing voice, she studied theater and the other arts at Shenandoah University, where she later earned degrees magna cum laude in English and Spanish. From church plays and community theater to high school and University productions, Colleen’s performances not only touched all who saw her, but presaged a lifelong passion for connecting with people.
Colleen loved communicating directly with people and understood the limitations of social media. Early in her life, she acquired a command of the English language that she constantly enhanced. While still a toddler she would “write” books (sometimes written on paper by mom or dad while Colleen dictated). Her illustrations were rich beyond her years. As she grew older, she would write notes and letters to friends and family with collages and mosaics that made each a work of art. Her pen pals reported waiting at the mailbox to see what the post office would deliver from Colleen.
Colleen loved using her command of language to create and tell stories. In second grade, she submitted one of her books to WETA public television as part of its competition for young writers. Koshka and Me, Colleen’s story of her life with her first cat, won the championship for the region. In addition to showcasing her literary and artistic talents, the book reflected another gift. Throughout, Colleen’s illustrations showed very day-to-day experiences enhanced through her love and creativity. One of the pictures showed Koshka and Colleen watching her mom make a phone call in the kitchen while in a strapless ball gown. Throughout her life, Colleen took the mundane and recreated it as magical.
Colleen loved adventure and travel, both with family and on her own. Before she graduated from high school, she had enjoyed a safari in Africa with her dad, climbed over cooled lava with her mom to see Kilauea provide real fireworks in Hawaii on July 4th, and traveled throughout Europe with brother Ken and other friends. Colleen also spent time in the royal game preserve in Thailand and became a certified elephant handler, having spent a couple of weeks assigned to one of the herd and caring for it daily.
Colleen loved helping others. Through Girl Scouts and church, she participated in many service projects and mission trips, both in Northern Virginia and in other parts of the world. She would often use her command of the Spanish language to engage those she was serving. In other parts of the world such as the Czech Republic and Belize, Colleen’s singing voice and love of music would be the common language.
Colleen loved animals as well. In addition to cherishing various hermit crabs, fish, turtles, and birds, she adopted cats from animal shelters and barns. As a child, she asked friends to bring gifts for pets to one of her birthday parties. She donated them to a local animal shelter. Her spirit was surely warmed by being reunited with her dearly loved Koshka, Georgia, and Fuzz.
Highly intelligent, Colleen loved both the rigor and the creativity of an academic setting. At Shenandoah, her English credentials earned her a personal visit with the commencement speaker, Nikki Giovanni, on the day of her graduation. Shortly thereafter, Colleen’s command of Spanish earned her a spot as a presenter at a nationwide literary conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where most presenters were doctoral candidates or professors. Totally in Spanish, Colleen explained how white women were portrayed in several Hispanic works of literature.
Colleen loved, in fact, all forms of teaching. She taught Spanish to preschoolers and seniors alike, her command of the language, her thorough preparation, and her ability to connect on a personal level making her uniquely effective. Colleen also researched and wrote study aids for a nationwide educational firm, displaying a rare ability to communicate a wide variety of rich subject matter to students at all levels of reading comprehension.
Possibly more than anything, Colleen loved her family and friends. She was thoughtful, compassionate, caring, and loyal. Deeply and universally, her family and friends returned her love. Many have reported that she taught them how to love and to live.
In short, Colleen loved life itself. Even though she bravely fought a vicious eating disorder for many years, she never lost her passion for the many people and things that she loved. The disease ultimately overcame the body, but it could not conquer her capacity to love. She lives on as a part of all who knew her.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, 2650 South Arlington Mill Drive, Arlington, VA 22206, or to Shenandoah University, 1460 University Drive, Winchester, VA 22601.
Celebration of Life
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Mount Olivet United Methodist Church
1500 N. Glebe Rd
Colleen Victoria Foster
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
January 21, 2020
Dear Dave, Martha, and Ken,
We are so saddened to learn of Colleen's passing. I can clearly recall her warm and rather conspiratorial smile whenever we met, as if we were sharing a little secret. I am certain she was a light to all of her friends and family. We cannot imagine the sorrow you must now feel, but please know that we stand with you, and that God holds Colleen and you in His hands.
Bruce, Marie, and Alana Wiljanen
January 15, 2020
Dear Dave, Martha, and Ken - I don’t know how to put into words how sorry I am about the beautiful and lovely Colleen. I have such fond memories of her cheering us up at School Board meetings by bringing Girl Scout cookies, and one year, candles that looked like snowy trees. Such a sweet and helpful girl - no one could have asked for a more wonderful daughter and sister. I’m so sorry that she was unable to defeat her illness, which was an ruthless and relentless adversary. I know you are heartbroken, and I can only hope that it gives some measure of comfort to know that Colleen touched so many lives during her short time on earth, and that you were a wonderful, supportive family, doing your best to help her.
January 15, 2020
I remember Colleen at ATS as a young girl. Always had a smile when greeting people. After ATS, I would sometimes bump into her, usually with Mom.. Just recently I saw her and Martha, and that smile was still there.. I am so sorry... wishing the Fosters peace and love. Renee Gosky
January 15, 2020
We’ll always remember Colleen’s beautiful blue eyes and sweet smile. We look forward to celebrating her rich life. Our hearts are with you Martha and David and Kenneth.
Love Mike and Beth Doyle
January 14, 2020
Cara and I are so sorry for your loss. I'll always remember Colleen's being a special part of her dad's political campaigns and how close the entire Foster family was in all of those efforts. We send our deep condolences, and know that you all are in our prayers.
January 14, 2020
Colleen aspired to a level of emotional honesty that is harder for most of us. She felt things fully and immediately. She was tender, and beautifully soft with people, and still unrestricted with her self freedom. We shared that in common, our need to know and experience things for ourselves. Observant, and witty, and artistic, and studious, and talented, and connected intimately with people and ideas. Able to chide me with truth and poignancy, and still gentle when it counted. Too many memories to describe, and too much love to convey with words.
January 13, 2020
My sincere condolences to Colleen’s family and friends. I did not know Colleen, but learned of her life because our family has recently been forced to join an eating disorder Facebook support group, as we begin our journey to help a family member fight the debilitating disease. Colleen sounded like a beautiful person. Her life obviously touched many people, and now her life story has impacted our family as well. Thank you for sharing her story. Your family will be in our hearts and prayers as you celebrate and cherish your memories with Colleen.
January 11, 2020
I will always cherish the time I spent with Colleen. She was always wonderfully supportive and I loved getting her letters. Even though she was struggling, she always encouraged me to keep fighting. I'll miss being able to share a coffee or movie with her as well as our talks about music and kitty cats. She was so full of love for the people in her life and her smile could light up a room. The world has lost a beautiful soul. To Colleen's family, I'm so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with all of you at this difficult time.
January 11, 2020
I grieve the loss of a truly passionate young woman who touched the lives of so many people of all ages. Dearest Colleen, I loved receiving your letters as we shared our dreams and fears. I ached for the battle you fought! I loathed the ED that robbed you of hope! I prayed that you would find peace and comfort this side of heaven but God found divine purpose in your earthly demise and received you with open arms and heavenly bliss! Sweet friend, though it is my loss, I trust God’s eternal mercy and bid you farewell!! Love, Karen
January 10, 2020
Martha and David: Joe and I are so very sorry for your loss. Please know that you and your family remain in our prayers. Colleen will be well taken care of in heaven. She'll probably meet Suzy in line!
Much love to you both. Jeanne and Joe.
January 10, 2020
Colleen was the most amazing young woman. Simply beautiful inside and out. She is dearly missed by many of us here at Shenandoah University. I pray that all the beautiful memories of your daughter and sister continue to comfort each of you.
January 9, 2020
Colleen was kind, gentle, and dedicated. I will miss her letters, with their beautiful collages and meaningful messages. She was one of the first people I met at Shenandoah, and she went out of her way to keep up with me, make visits to attend my wedding, baby shower, and church some of the times I preached. She was an amazing friend, and I will never forget her! May she rest in peace and rise in glory, to be forever in the arms of her Savior. My prayers and love are with her family, praying especially for comfort in this difficult time.
January 8, 2020
Martha, Dave, Ken and Michelle,
My heart is broken as I think of the pain that you are experiencing since Colleens death.
Colleen was a beautiful child of God and she is in God's protective care, as you all are.
My heart is with you and you are all in my prayers.
Sally and Joe Keyes
January 8, 2020
Martha, Dave and Ken,
We are so saddened to hear about Colleen's passing. It seems impossible to come up with words to comfort you. Know that you are in our hearts. We will keep you all in our prayers. If there is any way we can help or support you, please, please let us know.
January 7, 2020
I am so very sorry to learn of Colleen’s death. Although I knew her long ago at Yorktown, I know she faced her illness as she faced her life: with determination, bravery, and humor. I remember stopping off for dinner and paper plate awards after a theatre State competition at the property Colleen’s family owned (and nearly getting the bus stuck in the muddy road leading to the house, the cause of much laughter and gasping!) Colleen was a gracious hostess, making Carol and me and a couple of other adult chaperones welcome and making sure her fellow students and cast members had what they needed to celebrate our successful performance in Charlottesville. Colleen will be missed, and a glass raised in her memory at the next YHS theatre reunion.
January 7, 2020
Grace, Mollie, Rose Mary and I send our deepest thoughts in sharing your sorrow over the loss of Colleen who we recall from her shared childhood years. We remember her as that bright Girl Scout who was always a joy to be with and a wonderful friend to our Grace. We also recall our fun times in South Africa when we all were visiting wonders in nature and laughing together as the critters moved across our path. Our hearts go out to you all with the hope that time, comforting memories and the love you had for Colleen will help heal the sorrow. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.
With caring, Gray and the whole Handley/Romano Family.
Kate Moore Patton
January 4, 2020
Colleen was a wonderful neighbor who enjoyed walking around our pretty neighborhood. She always had a beautiful smile and a friendly wave whenever I saw her. She’ll definitely be missed.
My deepest condolences to Martha, David & Ken.