K.R.W. ‘Bob’ Foster
by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Hundreds of people gathered on Monday 9th June 2014 to honour Bob Foster; filling St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Millicent and the adjoining hall, long before the service began. Others waited outside to listen via a speaker system; a testament to the life of a man who had touched their lives one way or another.
Pastor Don Broadwater began with the words, “ we have come to remember the life; and the impact of the life of a dear Christian gentleman, Bob Foster.”
“People sometimes think that Christianity is something that happens inside four walls,” he said, indicating the church walls, “but Bob knew differently, he had a living faith and this faith impacted others as he went about his daily life.”
Representative of Bob’s trademark humility, there was no recording of good deeds, no lists of community groups he had supported and saved, no mention of amounts of money he had contributed to community, to his family, to strangers.
If you knew Bob, you already knew that.
The message was not what he did in his life…………. but why he did it!
Rev Broadwater said he remembered the day Bob, as he insisted he be called , not Mr Foster; realized what a gracious gift he had received in having the opportunity to own his own store and wanted to show and share grace through that store. He wanted to share his gracious gift, with others, family, friends and his community. (The store was not given to Bob but he considered it a gift of grace.)
“That’s what a living faith is,” said Rev Broadwater, “showing the grace of Jesus Christ in the way we live our life.”
” Bob was always open to new things, but always remembered the long-lasting relationships.”
“I visited him in Flinders Hospital just a few weeks ago and “as I got to the door of Bob’s room, his hand went up in recognition and he greeted me with the words – come on in. As ill as he was he greeted my wife and I so warmly. I never saw Bob without a smile and a warm greeting.”
“Bob had a gentle spirit, a warm laughter; he led the way for change in this ministry in recent years, his was a faith lived and shared, he showed how a firm could be successful when run properly, he used his business as an outreach far beyond its four walls.”
“In Romans is says – “if God is for us, who can be against us?”
“This dear man knew that love, and it was a privilege to know him.”
“To be absent from the body, is to be with God.”
As the manager of one community group that has been blessed by Bob Foster, later Brian and more recently David; I always remember being told by Tony Stiles when I joined the station some years ago, that many a time 5THE FM would have closed it’s doors if not for the certainty that Foster’s sponsorship cheque would arrive on time each month. Again it wasn’t just the amount – it was the certainty that it would arrive.
We were delighted when Bob made a surprise visit to 5THE FM at Christmas time, just a few months ago. It was a joy for us all. He was as much a part of the station as any one who has ever worked here and he showed great interest in the progress of the station.
One of his concerns that day, was the state of the local health system, the loss of services from the Millicent Hospital and the effects on his community; which he discussed during his visit.
Gary from Rendelsham said,”You know it was Bob Foster that started this thing….you know, this thing …looking after each other through his business….Bob started it….and now Brian does it….. it really was Bob Foster that began all that in this community.”
When Bob was flown home from Flinders Medical Centre by the RFDS, he told his family he was so pleased they wouldn’t have to drive long distances to Adelaide to visit him in hospital anymore.
Bob was always concerned for others.
Bob enjoyed many hours with his wife Beryl and his immediate family visiting him while he was in the Flinders Medical Centre and Millicent Hospital; but he particularly enjoyed visits from his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who delighted him with pictures and drawings.
Don Stewart, Bob’s nephew, gave the eulogy at Monday’s service and provided it to wattlerangenow to be printed here:-
“To speak about a good and principled men is always a privilege and so it is with Bob Foster, as we farewell not just a well-known gentleman, but a friend, whether many decades standing, or perhaps from more recent times, for Bob considered it a privilege to have over 9 decades to form so many friendships in his professional and personal life.
K.R.W. Foster, ‘Bob’ to most and ‘Kelvin’ to others, was born at Millicent in 1922, four years after the end of WWI. He was the youngest child of William and Lily (nee Carthew) of Kendale, near Rendelsham.
His sisters Gweneth later Gweneth Kidman of Bellbouri SE and Phyllis,later Phyllis Stewart of Rendelsham were 12 and 10 years his senior.
Bob’s family was a pioneering one; his great-grandfather Robert arrived in SA in 1849 from Great Kendale Farm in the East Riding of Yorkshire and farmed his properties at Callendale, Lake Eliza and Lake St Clair in the SE before Bob;s grandfather took up land at Kendale, east of Rendelsham; so began in 1879, the long Foster association with this district.
Bob was at Rendelsham Primary School and was 8 years old when his father died in 1930; he later attended Millicent High School and then an apprenticeship at the Adelaide Stock Exchange for some years before returning to the family farm which his mother had been managing. Ofcourse growing up in Rendelsham, chicory was part of that farm life.
The later 1940’s were busy years for Bob. In October 1946, 67 years ago, Bob married Beryl Humphries of Rendelsham and the next year in 1947, took over part of AA Poole’s grocery and farm supply business – so began his Rendelsham store. Many more senior folk will well remember the Red Truck, Bob’s Morris Commercial, loaded in fashion of Tom Kruse’s outback truck with 44 gallon drums of petrol and other essentials, making the trips to Mt Hope with deliveries as such to Arch McArthur, Alf Braham or Ken Stuckey of Murtonga.
Later, Keith Humphries, Bob’s brother-in-law assisted, both at the shop and with those deliveries.
The Red Truck is still extant and immaculate in the good care of Brian and Kathy.
In the following years, children Pam, Brian and later Catherine arrived.
In the early 1960’s Bob expanded his business to Millicent with his purchase of the Serv-Wel store in George Street and in 1971 he built the present Foodland Store in Kentish Place.
Recent research by Kathy Foster and niece Wendy Thompson resulted in a count of over 400 staff who have been employed by Bob and Brian since that time, 43 years ago.
Bob had the respect and friendship of professional staff throughout that time.
Until 3 years ago, he continued to take interest in the running of the business with banking and general office duties.
Foremost in Bob’s life has been his close-knit family, extending first with his son-in-law Allen Crowe, daughter-in-law Kathy Foster and now including 8 grandchildren.
Together with Beryl he travelled widely in SA Asia, Europe and the US.
He was a cultured man and an accomplished pianist and organist; for over 70 years Bob was organist at the Rendelsham Presbyterian Church and also here at St Andrews Millicent.
No doubt his gene for musical talent has been passed on to daughter Catherine, grand-daughter Angela and grandson Ashley.
Bob never seemed to grow ‘old’; even in his last days he could discuss technological developments, not least advances in computing and another of his hobbies, digital photography.
It should be mentioned that Bob always had a great affection for animals, including his most recent adoption of a stray rooster which, with un-nerving accuracy, made its way to Bonshor Street and where it now has first-class lodgings.
Being the only family member who couldn’t visit him in hospital, Bob requested a photo of ‘Roostie’ be brought to his bedside.
Over his many years Bob embarked on numerous projects of community and individual assistance, and no doubt more we don’t know about.
Through out such times, his trademark guidance, cheerfulness and humour never deserted him.
Two or three weeks ago when his doctors told Bob of the dire prognosis he promptly commented:-
‘so it’s ODTAA then’
Asked to explain, Bob replied
‘one damn thing after another’
Not many people know Bob was a prolific constructor and rider of surf-boards. In earlier times, it was a frequent sight to see Bob and Beryl taking yet another prototype far around the Southend beach on the back of the Red Truck, prior to its launching.
The image remains as the truck becomes smaller and smaller in the distance, much as Bob now leaves us, but he leaves us in the sure hope of our meeting on another shore.
Foster’s Foodland staff formed a guard of honour for their ‘Boss”, grandsons David Foster, Nicholas Foster, Matthew Crowe, Brendan Crowe, Ashley Crowe and nephew Don Stewart were pall-bearers and staff member Sue Pappin was the organist for the service, playing hymns Come Home, How Great they Art and It Is Well With My Soul prior to the service.
“It was such an honour to do this for Bob,” Sue said.
Hymns chosen by the family for the service were –
The Lord’s My Shepherd and Be Still My Soul which was requested by Bob.
Bible Readings: John 14:1-6 Romans 8:31-39
and later at the Rendelsham Cemetery Psalm 121 and Revelations 21:1-4
Pastor Don Broadwater concluded the service with the words:- “Those who have a living faith have a sure and certain destiny with God and this dear brother has made his home-going.
It was no surprise the funeral cortege stretched from Millicent to Rendelsham. As the first car reached the Rendelsham Cemetery, the last were still leaving Millicent.
On Monday the red truck stood in front of Bob and Beryl’s first store and home of over 60 years on Railway Tce Rendelsham. Bob told me a few years ago, he still had the original bill of sale.
‘The passing of a genuinely good man’
‘The family would like to sincerely thank Drs Wachtel and Bushell and all staff at the Millicent Hospital for the care they gave ‘dad’ and the whole family, during his time in hospital. ‘