Joe Bill Foster
July 25, 1934 – May 9, 2020
Joe Bill Foster passed away suddenly from cardiac arrest on Saturday, the 9th of May 2020. He was 85 years of age.
He is survived by Harriet Dorman Ruez Foster, his wife of 29 years; his children, Warren and wife Mirta and their children Ben and wife Becca and William, Kenneth and wife Valerie and their son Alexander and Jennifer Foster. He is also survived by children Bryan and wife Nancy and their children William and wife Caroline and Christopher Ruez, Gretchen and her husband Cliff Carraway and Richard Ruez. In retirement, Joe especially loved spending time with his great-grandchildren Rose Foster and William, Jack, and Alice Ruez. Joe was preceded in death by his first wife Mary Alice.
Joe was born on the 25th of July 1934 in Arp, Texas, the only son of Ruth Knox and William R. Foster. He was raised in Greenville, Texas and graduated with highest honors from Greenville High school in 1952. He attended Texas A&M University, Class of ’56, and graduated with a B.S. in petroleum engineering and a B.B.A. in general business.
Joe went to work as a petroleum engineer for Tenneco Oil and had a successful 31 year career where he last served as Chairman of both Tenneco Oil Company and Tennessee Gas Transmission Company. In 1989, Joe, with former Tenneco employees and investors, founded Newfield Exploration Company. He retired as CEO in 2001 and Chairman in 2005. During Joe’s distinguished career, he held key positions in the energy industry including the National Petroleum Council, Independent Petroleum Association of America, and served on the corporate boards of Baker Hughes, McDermott International, Inc., New Jersey Resources Company and Targa Resources Company. In 2000, Joe served as interim CEO of Baker Hughes. Joe was Chairman and Senior Advisor of TPH Partners, LLC, a private equity fund affiliated with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.
Joe served in various capacities including as Chairman for many not-for-profit organizations, including YMCA of Greater Houston, Houston Hospice, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston A+ Challenge, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Texas A&M University Foundation, and the Association of Former Students.
In 1997, Joe was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University. The Joe B. Foster Chair in Business Leadership was established in the Mays College of Business in 2002 with funding from the Foster family and Newfield Exploration. In 2006 Joe was inducted into the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor.
In 2009, the YMCA on 34th Street was named The Harriet and Joe Foster YMCA and in 2015 The Harriet and Joe Foster Field at The Miracle League, the adaptive sports complex at the Langham Creek YMCA, was dedicated to recognize their many contributions to the YMCA of Greater Houston.
Joe was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” in Houston’s Energy Sector in 1994 and “All American Wildcatter” in 1995. In 2004 , Joe was inducted into the Offshore Energy Center Hall of Fame and in 2006 into the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Joe credited his success to his loving parents, teachers, supportive family, friends, and those he had the good fortune to work with during his career. Joe cared very deeply about his family, enjoyed many long-term friendships which were formed throughout all aspects of his life. Joe was truly respected and loved by everyone who knew him.
A celebration of Joe’s life is being considered and will be announced at a later date. In the interim you may opt to receive updated service information by selecting the "Receive Notifications" icon below.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in his name be directed to one of Joe’s favorite charities: YMCA of Greater Houston, https://donate.ymcahouston.org/Harriet-and-Joe-Foster-Family-YMCA ; and/or to Alzheimer’s Cell Therapy at Houston Methodist, P.O. Box 4384, Houston, TX, 77210. Kindly specify that the donation is for Alzheimer’s research in memory of Joe B. Foster. Alternately, you may also give online at the following link: givingforms.houstonmethodist.org/GeneralGivingForm. Once you have accessed the Methodist website select “Other” under gift designation then enter “Alzheimer research’s – Joe B Foster.”
Arrangements Are To Be Announced
Joe Bill Foster
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May 24, 2020
A great member of the Aggie Corps
A role model American
A icon businessman
An honor to have known and be his friend
May 20, 2020
I first met Joe and Harriet in 2012 when Nanci Rutledge brought them to the Langham Creek YMCA for a Miracle League baseball game. We knew they were very compassionate and philanthropic towards the Y and we needed a voice to support the cause to raise money to build a sports complex for special needs children. After watching a game and seeing the joy and excitement in the kids’ eyes, they were hooked. I was lucky to serve as Campaign Co-Chair with the Fosters to raise funds to build a $4 million complex designed to benefit children with special needs. Over the years, Joe and Harriet attended games and fundraisers to keep this dream growing. With their help, we were able to build a second complex in Humble. Joe was a loving and caring man and was always wearing a smile. I will miss him dearly!
May 20, 2020
Joe and I were roommates in our junior and senior years in the Texas A and M corps and both on corps staff together. We had a good time on the Mardi Gras corp trip as we marched in the the parade as members of the Texas A and M Ross Volunteers. He called me while I was working for Westinghouse on their training program, asking me to be his best man to his first marriage. I regret very much not being able to do that honor. Always remember that he was one smart dude who was down to earth and friendly to every one. He went on to have a wonderful family to accomplish great things, but he always was a wonderful human being. I hate like hell that he's passed. Rest in peace Joe Bill - your A and M roomy, Frank Richie, Texas A and M, class of 56.
May 19, 2020
We love Mr. Joe and Mrs. Harriet. Thanks to y’all, we have our amazing adaptive field Foster Field. We met y’all at the dedication in 2015 and have loved seeing y’all at games and events for years. Both of our sons have disabilities and love Miracle League. We send our love and condolences to Harriet and family. We love you, Mr. Joe!
May 19, 2020
My prayers are with the entire family. A great man has left this community. I had just graduated college and began working at Tenneco while I never worked for Mr. Foster I knew who he was. We shared space in the aerobics room at the gym where he pushed those of us in the fast past class to keep going. He greeted us not knowing our job titles or how long we had been with the company. I respected him as a leader and the contributions he made at Tenneco and Newfield to the energy industry. Blessings to you during this time.
Sister Rosanne Popp
May 18, 2020
Joe (and Harriet) were great believers in CHRISTUS Foundation for Health ministry, especially my ministry to the medically underserved. He helped me get my first stove at the clinic so we could do nutritional education. I will always remember that kind action and grateful for that support.
He (and Harriet) were great Astros fans; a love we shared. Occasionally, we were invited join them in the Diamond Club; what a treat. He was also able to help me fulfill a bucket list dream: throwing out the first pitch at an Astros game...so much fun.
Blessings on you, Joe as you reap your reward for your generosity and assistance to those who were in most need. Rest in Peace.
Sister Rosanne Popp, MD
May 16, 2020
As editor of Tenneco Magazine, I had the good fortune to cross paths with Joe on many occasions. He was always a consummate class act. But it wasn't until I left Tenneco to become a freelance writer that I really appreciated the true measure of the man.
When he and his merry band of Tenneco colleagues (plus investors) launched Newfield, I pitched this amazing story to Oil & Gas Investor Magazine. I interviewed Joe on several occasions for the story and enlisted beloved Tenneco chief photographer Buddy Nixon to take the photos. We had a fun time producing the piece and of course I asked Joe to review it before publication.
Whenever I ran into Joe in later years, he would never fail to credit me with putting Newfield on the map. So not true, but we laughed and laughed about the memory. You see, Joe had this wonderful ability to elevate whomever he was with and make them feel special. That's what he did with me.
Later on, I visited Newfield for another assignment and was stunned when I went into the lobby and saw the company's timeline of milestones. That long-ago article, with my byline, was listed on the timeline shortly after the company's founding. Oh, Joe, you got the last laugh. What an honor to know you.
Teri Gonzales Knudson
May 16, 2020
Joe Foster was truly a special person. He was a good man. A very good man. Not only was he an exceptional leader and businessman he took time to care about those who worked for and with him. He had such a genuine personality. As an example, he and Harriet took the time to come to my going away party at Newfield. I will always treasure that. He was a remarkable leader. He also created in me as well as others a desire to deliver only our best. My heart is full of prayers for Harriet, all of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. May God comfort all of you in this time of loss.
Janice Aston White
May 15, 2020
Joe Foster was a force in business and in the community. He embodied the characteristics of a true leader that are so rare in our world today.
Under his leadership, Tenneco Oil Company achieved great success as a mid-size exploration and production company that was known for its inventiveness and collaborative style of management and operational flexibility. Most of the individuals who worked during his tenure at the company described it as the best period of their working careers. His protegees would go on to run numerous energy companies and become industry thought leaders and experts. Joe would build a $7 billion independent from scratch with a group of Tenneco co-workers who were so confident in his abilities and loyal to him personally that they pooled their own severance money with his and other investors to create Newfield Exploration.
Mr. Foster was revered by his co-workers at Tenneco Oil Company. In the workplace, he was known for his respect and fair treatment of the individual, his ability to always remember names and facts about people and his focus on building teamwork among disciplines and across company subsidiaries. Only Joe could host two reunions for a defunct company that had been sold 20 years ago and bring out a crowd that numbered more than 600. Only he could corral a group of retired executives who were approaching their 80s to write a history of Tenneco in the energy sector nearly 25 years after the demise of the company. I was fortunate to have worked on those endeavors with him and learned the meaning of the saying I often heard from others: "You never stop working for Joe."
Joe was a powerful influence on the industry, on the community and on those with whom he worked. All of us who knew him professionally feel his loss. It is the end of an era.
Jeanette Duchesne Williams
May 14, 2020
It was my honor to know and work for Joe Foster at Tenneco for many years. His integrity and work ethic inspired all of us. He cared about his employees and challenged us to learn and to perform to the best of our ability. His friendship, encouragement and support meant a lot to me. Thanks you Harriet for your loving care of Joe. A special sympathy to his children and extended family.
Blessings, Jeanette and Neil Williams
May 14, 2020
On May 9, 2020, the Texas A&M University community lost a devoted family man, outstanding businessman, and an all-around great Aggie in Joe B. Foster ’56. A man of integrity who always set out to do the right thing, Joe represented the values that Texas A&M seeks to instill in every student. We were blessed that Mr. Foster served as Trustee from 1988-95. His dedication for excellence and the impact of his leadership and vision continues to make a difference in the faculty and students at Texas A&M. The Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees and I offer prayers and sincere condolences for Mrs. Harriet Foster and the Foster family.
Tyson Voelkel ’96
President, Texas A&M Foundation
May 13, 2020
The Joe Bill Foster family were special next door neighbors in Nottingham Forest for many years . We cherish the memories of times we shared with our children . Warren, Ken and Jen Foster . Jeff and Gina Bayless. Thankful that we have remained friends and kept in touch.
Thank you Harriett for your loving care , especially the last few years as Alzheimer’s got worse. I loved his calls to me with things long ago. GOD BLESS YOU DEAR FAMILY.
Nancy Du Frane
May 13, 2020
We were so sorry to hear the news. We remember all of you so very well. I have so many fond memories of "Mr. Foster" growing up. Going on my first ski trip with The Fosters, spending weekends at their lake house, learning how to water ski -- with Mr. Foster patiently, repeatedly, circling the boat back around so I could try again, playing 2 on 1 football with Jenny in the backyard at the lake house and "Mr. Foster" playing switch quarterback.... Staying with "my Foster Family" whenever my parents were out of town. So many cherished memories! A lifetime ago, and a great lifetime for all of us. Thank you so much for being a part of our lives.
Nancy Du Frane, and her mother and dad, Dick and Joyce
Madelyn and George Farris
May 13, 2020
Harriet - we are so sad to hear this news - we have tears. Joe was a bright star in our lives and so many others. Joe Foster was kind, successful, and beloved by all who knew him.
We send you our love and deepest sympathy -
Madelyn and George
May 13, 2020
Harriet and family,
It was a privilege and an honor to work with Joe while on the Board of the Houston Hospice. He had enormous compassion for patients, family members and staff of the wonderful non-profit. He was my mentor, and I will always treasure the times we shared.