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Barbara Foster


1936 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Barbara Foster Obituary
Barbara Bachman Foster

December 19, 1936 - June 8, 2014

Barbara Foster, a resident of Palo Alto for almost 50 years, died in her sleep on Sunday, June 8, at the age of 77. She was a loving wife and mother, an active contributor to community causes, and a social connector for many circles of friends. Her passing is an unexpected loss to the many people who knew and loved her.

Born Barbara Ann Bachman on December 19, 1936, in Vancouver, Washington, she first came to California as a Stanford freshman in 1955, and she quickly fell in love with the Bay Area.

After graduating from Stanford with a bachelor's degree in journalism, Barbara worked as a reporter at the Palo Alto Times for about two years. After she married Winfield (Win) Foster and helped get him through his last six months at Stanford Law School, the two of them moved to San Francisco where they spent over four stimulating years, enjoying their careers and having adventures in the marvelous city. Barbara worked in the women's department of the San Francisco Examiner and later at the San Francisco Chronicle, covering many glamorous events involving the city's high society.

Barbara and Win moved to Palo Alto in 1966, where she worked for several more years and was an active member of the Peninsula Volunteers. They had two children, Laura and Andrew. Barbara was a hands-on mother for the next eight years. In a typical instance of organizational strength, she had the foresight to organize a baby-sitting co-op almost before she had left the delivery room, giving her some free time and exposing her kids to a wide variety of potential playmates.

When Andrew was ready to enter school, Barbara went back into the work force, first at the development office of the Stanford Business School. Three years later, without any prior entrepreneurial experience, she made the momentous decision to launch a business, Keynote Speakers. Through her courage, energy, tenacity, and high standards, along with her ability to connect people and ideas and to inspire loyalty and respect from her employees, Barbara expanded Keynote from a cottage industry to a substantial enterprise. In 2001 she sold the business to a senior employee who has continued to run it successfully to this day.

By this time Win had also retired. They spent the last 13 years of her life in a variety of enjoyable pursuits, including travel, volunteer work, reading, gardening, birding, bicycling, cheering for Stanford teams, spoiling their granddaughters and entertaining friends. Barbara was very active in the Mid-Peninsula League of the San Francisco Symphony, the Woman's Club of Palo Alto, and the Palo Alto Garden Club. Among her most noteworthy activities were major fundraising for The Opportunity Center, and she received an Outstanding Achievement Award from Stanford for her successful co-chairing of a major class reunion. Barbara also served on a committee for the Palo Alto Centennial celebration in 1994. She attended All Saints' Episcopal Church for many years and served a term on its vestry before moving over to Saint Mark's Episcopal Church seven years ago.

Barbara was bright, enthusiastic, cheerful, hard-working and positive in her thinking. She will be sorely missed by many people. She is survived by her husband Win, her daughter Laura Foster Whitaker of Washington, D.C., her son Andrew Foster of Sacramento, and two grandchildren, Tomiko and Lily Foster.

A memorial service and celebration of Barbara's life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 18, at Saint Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Avenue, in Palo Alto. A reception will follow in the church's parish hall. In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to send contributions to Greenpeace International, the San Francisco Symphony, or a .
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from June 12 to June 13, 2014
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