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Eleanor Robinson Graham Foster

1920 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Eleanor Robinson Graham Foster Obituary
Eleanor Robinson

Graham Foster

Asheville - Eleanor Robinson Graham Foster, age 93, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Saturday, May 11, 2013.

Eleanor was born April 18, 1920 in Philadelphia, PA., and grew up in Chestnut Hill. The youngest daughter of William and Agnes Graham, she had two older sisters, Ann and Elizabeth. As teenagers, Eleanor and her sisters often modeled for the Bonwit Teller department store. Eleanor and her sister Betty also attended dance classes instructed by Martha Graham, considered the pioneer of modern dance. Her mother often designed many of the girl's evening gowns in which they were often featured in local papers.

In the 1930's Eleanor attended Ogontz Junior College which provided a military regimen for young girls consisting of drills and calisthenics complete with uniforms and faux rifles for drills. She then attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. where she majored in mathematics and business. Upon graduation Eleanor began her professional career in 1942 in Philadelphia as an actuary at the then-young management and financial consulting firm of Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby (TPG&C). She worked at TPF&C until the summer of 1949, when she and two girlfriends quit their jobs to tour Europe after World War II. While en route to Europe on the Queen Mary, Eleanor met a Foreign Service officer on his way back to Paris from home leave in the United States, and her second career began. Eleanor toured Europe and for several months with her friends, then returned to Paris to dine with Seaborn.

Eleanor and Seaborn Parks Foster, (son of William Thomas and Antoinette Marie of Midway, Alabama), were married in Paris in July, 1950. For the next 20 years she traveled the world in the company of her husband and her growing family, serving in the critical capacity as the wife of a United States diplomat. It was a role that her husband often recognized as having been integral in his representation of the United States abroad. While living in France, Eleanor attended the Cordon Bleu cooking school and developed a lifelong passion for French food and wines. Three of their children were born in Paris and the youngest in Washington, D.C.

Upon her husband's retirement from the Foreign Service in 1970, the family moved to Asheville, where she became an active member of the community. In 1978, shortly after the creation of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), she returned to her roots as an actuary. She remained at the PBGC in Washington, D.C. until her retirement in 1985. Eleanor and Seaborn retired to Asheville, NC in 1990.

One of her lifelong pleasures was spending the summers in her family home in Cape May, New Jersey, where she enjoyed swimming in the ocean and tending to her vegetable garden. She particularly enjoyed entertaining and hosting dinners in Cape May. Her favorite part of the day was enjoying the late afternoons on front porch with family and friends. She had a passion for skiing and enjoyed time travelling with her friends and family for ski holidays. Eleanor spent the last several years of her life appreciating the comfort and care of the Brooks-Howell Home in Asheville, where she was able to particularly enjoy the companionship and loving care of her granddaughter, Beth Buckner, a Brooks Howell nurse. She enjoyed as much time as she could with her grandchildren and her home was filled with their letters and drawings.

She is survived by her four children, son Don Parks Foster of Philadelphia, son Robert Graham Foster, wife Lynn Blevins Foster, grandchildren Beth, husband Michael Buckner, great-granddaughter Ella, grandson Sam and granddaughter Paige Foster, all of Asheville, NC , daughter Ellen Foster Kuhn of Arlington, VA and grandson Devin Bailie Kuhn of Arlington, and Rebecca and Elizabeth Kuhn, son Scott Bailie Foster, wife Elodie Marie Foster and grandchildren Adam, Olivia, Zachary, Hugh and Renee' of Villennes-sur-Seine, France.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 17, at 2:00 pm - The Chapel, Brooks Howell Home, 266 Merriman Avenue, Asheville, NC. A subsequent service and inurnment will be held at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC, in August, and date to be announced, where she will rest with Seaborn. Please send donations to Brooks Howell in lieu of flowers for the wonderful care they provide.

Morris Funeral Home, 304 Merrimon Avenue is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be sent through the website


Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on May 14, 2013
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