Former supervisor, Natchez man leaves lasting legacy
NATCHEZ — Ike Foster’s family members only need three words to sum up a man with a long list of achievements and accolades — farming, family and faith.
Foster, a native of Sontag and Natchez resident, served in the U.S. Army during World War II, was a member of the Adams County Board of Supervisors from 1968 to 1974 and even founded his own business, Ike Foster & Sons.
Children, grandchildren and other family members shared all those memories, and many more, Monday night at the family’s West Wilderness Road house following Foster’s “Homecoming Celebration” that morning.
Foster, 92, died Friday at his residence surrounded by his family.
Julia McClure Miller Foster, Foster’s second wife, met the Lawrence County native while working at the Adams County Water Association, years after both of them had lost their first spouses.
“My manager at the time was trying to play cupid and introduced us, so we started going out to eat together and wound up getting married,” she said. “He was a gentle man who had plenty of love to give everybody he met.
“He was just such a wonderful companion.”
The love Foster had to share was something Dwayne “Boo” Miller experienced first hand when his mother married Foster.
“I was 22 or 23 when I came into the family when him and Momma got together, but he immediately made me a part of his family,” Boo said. “I wasn’t a stepson or anything like that, I was his and he took care of me just like anyone else.
“He was always there for me, and that’s the way I will always remember him.”
The family into which Boo was welcomed was one that rarely saw a dull moment at the West Wilderness Road house.
Ferriss Foster, the second from the oldest grandchild, said she had countless memories of her grandfather growing up, but quickly pointed to a number of fly swatters hanging up on the wall when asked about one of her favorite memories.
“He hated flies, or buzzards as he called them, with a passion,” Ferriss said, smiling. “So he would give us a fly swatter and tell you that he would give you a nickel for every fly you got.”
The task quickly turned into a competitive game in the summer time.
“We would all have a fly swatter, and we had two deep freezers out back where (on top of which) we would each make our own little pile of dead flies,” Ferriss said. “We would draw a circle in the dust, make our initials and leave them there for when he would come by at the end of the day to count them all out and pay up.
“Looking back, it was a bit unsanitary but that’s how it was.”
Jason Parmer, another one of Foster’s grandchildren, said he spent his time growing up asking his grandfather to share memories of his time in the service.
Foster served with the U.S. Army 96th evacuation hospital in the Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaign from 1942 to 1945.
“Some of my fondest memories, even though they probably weren’t so much for him, were of me pestering and pestering him with questions about World War II,” Parmer said. “I was fascinated by his record and his lack of wanting to talk about it, but as I got older he started telling me more and more.”
Foster was awarded the Bronze Service Star for the European-African-Middle Eastern Theatre of Operations, ATO Medal and WWII Victory Medal during his service.
Those accolades and Foster’s lack of wanting to bring attention to them made Parmer have a tremendous amount of respect for his grandfather.
“His generation was the greatest generation that this country has ever seen and will ever see again,” Parmer said. “Knowing what his part in that was has always been very, very important to me and something I share with everyone.”
Foster’s oldest daughter, Mary Parmer Foster, will always remember her father as a man who never closed his door for anyone.
“He would loan money to people, and that’s something I learned later on life about my dad that I didn’t know growing up,” she said. “He didn’t have a lot of money to give, but these people knew if they came to my dad asking to borrow some he would help them out, and he didn’t expect them to pay it back.
“That was a side of him that I never knew or never saw in my time growing up, but made me respect him so much more for the generous heart and spirit he had.”
Those types of actions Foster displayed on a day-to-day basis are the reason Bryan Rabb, Foster’s grandson, said he was the ultimate role model.
“Not everybody has the opportunity we had to have a grandfather who was such a top-notch guy and also such a good Christian example of what kind of man to be,” Rabb said. “He was stern when he needed to be stern, but was soft when he needed to be soft.
“He was just a perfect example of a Christian man that we were all blessed to know.”