Herbert "Herb" Henry Foster Jr.
January 16, 1922-September 22, 2013
Resident of Santa Cruz
Herb Foster, 91, passed away at the family home in Santa Cruz on Sunday, September 22nd. Herb was born in Austin, Texas, but was mainly raised in Palm Springs where his father worked as a construction contractor. After serving in the army in Hawaii as an airplane mechanic in WWII, he attended Redlands University on the GI bill. There he met the love of his life, Eleanor "Ellie" Speer. They were married in 1947. At Redlands, Herb and Ellie became members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and thus began together their lifelong commitment to pacifism and active involvement in human rights concerns.
The couple were still newlyweds when they joined a post-WWII work camp in Austria where they served for three years helping refugees and orphans from the war and helping to rebuild homes and roads. Returning to the United States, Herb and Ellie worked in Chicago where they directed the Interns-in-Industry program with Saul Alinsky's Back of the Yards Movement. In 1955, they moved back to California, first to Modesto and Stockton, and then to Santa Cruz in 1958. Herb worked for many years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the state, and later as a real estate agent.
Herb and Ellie were founding members of the Santa Cruz Friends Meeting that originally met in their living room. They both continued their community work that included a three-year appointment for Herb to work with the American Friends Service Committee in Visalia developing a ground-breaking program of self-help housing where extremely low-income agricultural workers cooperatively built their own homes. Returning to their old farmhouse in Santa Cruz, they continued their community activism and advocacy for peace. For Herb this included numerous civil disobedience arrests for participation in peace activities, an unsuccessful run for City Council in Santa Cruz, and a run for Congress in 1970 on the Peace and Freedom ticket. In the early 1980's Herb participated in a peace-seeking visitation to Poland, the Soviet Union and Germany seeking an end to the nuclear weapons race.
Herb and Ellie raised three children: Joan, David and Kenneth. Following the tragic loss of their daughter in 1973, they became parents anew as they took on the joy of raising their 1 ½ year old granddaughter, Monica. In their later years, Herb and Ellie moved into a "granny unit" built for them next to their old home so that they could be near family. Ellie cared for Herb for several years as he adjusted to living with Alzheimer 's disease. Ellie passed away in 2011. Herb is survived by his sons, David and Ken, his grandchildren, Monica, Bard, Onawa, and Etta, and his great-grandchildren, Kobe, Leticia and Lily.
A memorial service will be held under the care of Santa Cruz Friends Meeting at Quaker Center (1000 Hubbard Gulch Rd., Ben Lomond) on November 3 at 3:00 p.m. Those wishing to honor Herb's memory in some manner are asked to make a donation to the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz at www.RCNV.org
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6, 2013