John Richard Foster, a lifelong resident of Evanston, died Oct. 28 at the Veteran's Hospital in North Chicago. He was 85.
Mr. Foster was born March 7, 1919, in one of the oldest houses still standing in Evanston, on Ridge Avenue north of downtown.
In 1799, Mr. Foster's great-grandfather, William Foster, emigrated from Ireland to America at age 12, with two of his uncles. In 1839, William Foster took up land on Ridge Avenue in Evanston and build a log house on his property. In 1872, William Foster's son, John Jacob, built the Dempster Street Pier, often referred to back then as Foster's Pier. John Jacob Foster later went on to become a bishop in the Methodist Church. Foster Street in Evanston was named in his honor.
After serving 14 months overseas in the U.S. Navy during World War II, John R. Foster returned home in 1946, entered college, and received a bachelor's degree from Greenville College in Greenville, Ind.
Mr. Foster then joined his father in the Foster house-moving business in Evanston, before leaving to teach math and science at a Christian school in Wheaton, Ill. While in this position, he also attended graduate school in the evening at Northwestern University in Evanston.
Mr. Foster later founded Foster Contracting Business, which began as a "side" business pursuit but over the years developed into his full-time occupation.
In his late 60s, Mr. Foster purchased a three-story brick building on Sherman Avenue in downtown Evanston. He spent his remaining years restoring the building, in which he designed and constructed six rental apartments. The apartment now is being run by family members.
Mr. Foster was a longtime member of Hillside Free Methodist Church in Evanston.
Survivors include sons John S. Foster of Seattle and David N. Foster of Phoenix; daughters Sylvia Foster Toth of Chicago and Jan Foster Sollitt of Northfield; 10 grandchildren; sister Marietta Kaiser of Greenville, S.C.; and one niece.
Funeral services were held Nov. 3 at Hillside Free Methodist Church in Evanston, with interment in Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie.