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John Rhoid Foster

1920 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
John Rhoid Foster Obituary
FOSTER, John R. "Johnny," 96, of Glen Allen, Virginia, passed away on Thursday, August 3, 2017. Born in Richmond, Virginia on December 4, 1920, he was preceded in death by his wife, Beth Eaton Foster; and his son, John R. Foster III. He is survived by his sister, Anne J. Foster, who turned 103 this past November.

Johnny was an avid golfer and fisherman, spending many an hour on the courses at Hermitage Country Club and Richmond Country Club where he held memberships. He also spent many an hour wetting a line with fellow anglers at both Nags Head and his small fishing cabin outside Cobbs Creek, Virginia on the Piankatank River. He was a longtime and devoted member of St. Giles Presbyterian Church, where for 42 years he served as Deacon, Elder, and tireless volunteer, leaving behind a host of friends. Johnny worked for Graybar Electric for many years before he and a partner formed their own electrical supply company, Philip Martini Associates, from which he retired in 1996.

Johnny attended NC State University and transferred to Virginia Tech, but before completing his degree at VPI, on April 1, 1944, he left college and enlisted in the United States Army Air Force, the precursor to the U.S. Air Force. After training stints in West Virginia, Texas, Florida and California, where he certified in preflight, flexible gunnery and advanced bombardier, he was sent to England and assigned as bombardier to a B-17 bomber crew based in Mendlesham near Ipswich, Suffolk. He and his crew, members of the 18th Bomb Squadron, 34th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, flew their first mission in the B-17 "Bottoms Up" on September 17, 1944 over Arnhem in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Johnny went on to fly a total of 30 bombing missions over France and Germany, completing his last one over Dülmen, Germany on March 26, 1945. He returned to base in England on numerous occasions in a badly damaged aircraft carrying wounded and dying crew members. On one mission a flak hit caused fuel loss, which necessitated the pilot of Johnny's Flying Fortress to abort the trip back to England, flying instead over East Prussia and to the safety of an air base in the Soviet Union. There, the crew was warmly welcomed by their Russian counterparts, feted with vodka, fed and given a place to sleep. The next morning they were refueled and headed back to base in England.

Johnny was discharged from the service in November, 1945, and was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf clusters and the EAME Ribbon with four stars. He returned to Richmond, where he got married and completed his education at the University of Richmond, to which he remained a loyal supporter for the rest of his life. In later years, he attended various events which honored World War II veterans. He also, along with friend and military researcher Jayson Brown, visited many elementary school classes in Richmond to speak about his experience during the war.

Johnny was a gentleman with a kind heart and a sharp wit, a raconteur with a wicked sense of humor, and he will be sorely missed. Particularly dear to his heart besides his family, was his longtime friend and caretaker, Donna Wright. The invaluable care provided by friend Katie Barta and Nurse Debra Stewart will not be forgotten. He is survived by sisters-in-law, Anne Eaton Bonsack and Doris Eaton Wright; nieces, Nancy E. Bonsack, Barbara Wright Whitsman (James); and nephew, John M. Wright III (Marian). Thank you to Independence Senior Care and Bon Secours Hospice.

A memorial service will be held for Johnny at St. Giles Presbyterian Church at 1 p.m. Friday, August 11, 2017. Burial services will be private, with interment in Greenwood Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Goochland Free Clinic or to BARK pet adoption and rescue organization (barkva.org). Condolences may be offered at woodyfuneralhomeparham.com.
Published in Woody Funeral Home Parham on Aug. 4, 2017
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