Sarah Whitmer Foster was successful in every aspect of life except in her struggle with Alzheimer's. Sarah was loving, outgoing, and very bright, graduating from James Madison University (B.S.), University of Pittsburgh (M.S.W.), and Florida State University (Ph.D.) After graduating from Pitt, Sarah worked for seven years in the Dept. of Defense Dependents Schools in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 1970s, she joined the faculty of Florida A&M University and served in the Dept. of Sociology, holding every rank from Instructor to tenured Professor. Dr. Foster will be remembered for her research that included co-authoring a book about Harriet Beecher Stowe in Florida and a biographical article about Florida First Lady Chloe Merrick Reed. She has the distinction of having had a book published by a university press and another by a state historical society. These works offer a new understanding of the birth of modern Florida and the role of women in founding it.
In 1987-89, Sarah Foster and her husband represented the National Council of Churches, Church World Service, in Southern Africa. While on leave from FAMU, Sarah risked her life at the end of the Apartheid era. The National Council opposed the policies of the South African government and she and John Foster traveled back and forth across the region, visiting refugee camps, hoisting American delegates, and encouraging church leaders. On one occasion, she helped expedite the delivery of 5,000 blankets to refugees. Among the Fosters' most treasured possessions is a letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Sarah was happier than many women of her generation. She was raised to engage the world rather than to be limited by traditional roles. Committed to a career and to travel, Sarah lived in Europe for years before she meet her husband.
The greatest pleasure in life came to Sarah Whitmer Foster from her family. Her son, Bruce W. Foster, has been a constant source of wonder and love. He has been far more than the "apple of her eye." It is a tragedy that Sarah did not know her daughter-in-law Kayla and granddaughter Charlie Kate. She was survived by husband, John, mother, Louise Whitmer, sisters, Sandra Lineweaver (Price), Becky Aiba, Barbara Hill (Donald), nephews and nieces, and seven grandnephews and nieces.