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Foster continues strong commitment to Flagler

Jan 4, 2019
by Kara Pound, '06

Establishes new scholarship to benefit students with financial need

Louise Foster

Louise Foster has been visiting St. Augustine since she was 16 years old. It was a time when only remnants of Henry Flagler’s Gilded Age remained, and she looks back at those days with humor and a sense of bewilderment.  

“My great-grandmother had a suite at the Ponce de Leon Hotel,” she said. “She and Uncle William were the last people that they kept the hotel open for. I would come down during my spring vacation and stay with them. There were only five of us in the dining room. It was comical and a bit ridiculous.” 

Fast-forward more than 60 years and Foster is still connected to the former luxury hotel, but today it is in support of Flagler College. 

The daughter of Lawrence Lewis Jr., one of the college’s founders, and Janice Patton Lewis, Foster has aided in the contribution of upwards of $15 million to Flagler. She is a Trustee Emerita – having served on the Board of Trustees from 1980-1999 and 2004-2010 – and recently donated a major gift of $100,000 in the form of the Foster Family Endowed Scholarship.  

“It’s a broad, open scholarship for students demonstrating financial need with a 3.5 minimum GPA,” Foster explained. “I have three family members that have graduated from Flagler, and with my involvement with the school, I thought that it was very appropriate for us to have a family scholarship.” 

A resident of High Point, N.C., for the past 40 years, Foster has six children. Two of her sons, Horace “Bo” Gray and Charles “Chuck” B. Foster, graduated from Flagler College, as well as her daughter-in-law, Carol Gordon Gray. Foster’s husband, John Foster, worked for 3M Corporation as a sales rep and then later owned a furniture business. He passed in 2014. 

“As the daughter of Lawrence Lewis Jr., who made it possible for the school to stay open in the early turbulent times, Foster has a great knowledge of the college and how it was run,” said Dr. Beverly Copeland Carmichael, Flagler’s recently-retired vice president for Institutional Advancement, and a ’72 graduate. “She has been supportive of the college since it first opened.” 

After Lewis’ passing in 1995, Foster took over for her father as the president of the Flagler Foundation and served as the president of the board of directors of the Flagler College Endowment Fund.  

“I was the only woman on the board until he died,” Foster said. “The fact that I was a woman and on the board was a big deal at the time. I would come down there about three times a year and I always loved visiting St. Augustine.”   

A longtime volunteer and philanthropist, Foster’s long-term support and commitment as one of the top three donors of Flagler College is ingrained in her as much as is being a mother. A registered nurse, she helped found Hospice of the Piedmont, the only community-based hospice in the Charlottesville, N.C., region, and currently works with indigent children in the public school system – tutoring them in reading and writing.   

She says she still enjoys watching Flagler’s success, even if it is from afar.   

“The most impressive thing for me is to see how much it’s grown,” she said. “The school means so much to so many people, as it does to me and my family.” 

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