Lester E. Foster
Lester E. Foster, prominent Willimantic businessman and life-long community supporter, passed away Saturday, May 17, 2008 at Douglas Manor in Windham, CT. Lester was born October 28, 1918 in Fall River, MA, son of morris and Dora Foster and lived in Moosup, CT. In the early 1930s, he became a resident of Willimantic. He was successful in three very diverse careers during his 65 years of active involvement. His early years were spent working with his father and his brother, Robert, in the wholesale produce business, and concurrently as lead singer for the Mattie Mattison Band which brought swing music to venues throughout New England. For several years, he fronted his own band, The Les Foster Orchestra. In 1958, Lester began his career as a real estate developer by first buying eight apartments on Bald Hill Rd. In Storrs, and subsequently building Orchard Acres, a 95-unit apartment complex, adjacent to the University of Connecticut campus. In partnership with his brother, he began the construction of the 408-unit Colonial Townhouse Apartments in 1965. The business earned a sterling reputation for outstanding service to tenants. When it was sold in 2000, appreciative tenants filled 2 scrap books with letters of thanks. During those years, Lester served in many community service capacities within the Willimantic area. For 22 years he was on the Board of Directors of Windham Hospital, serving as Treasurer for five years. He was a member of the Windham Board of Finance for 22 years, and was Chairman of that board for 10 years. He served on the Board of Directors of the Willimantic Trust Company, continuing for 22 years as it evolved to Fleet Bank of Boston. Other affiliations included the Willimantic Democratic Town Committee, the Visiting Nurses Association, Temple B'Nai Israel, and the Flanzer Foundation. Business was mixed with the pleasure he derived from his early and continued attendance and support of the University of Connecticut Basketball games, beginning in pre-Gampel days when games were held at the Field House. When the program had grown to the point of building Gampel, the Basketball Office in the lower level bore a plaque indicating it was a gift from Foster Development. Lesters interest in the university's team continued throughout the years. Lester was honored by two local universities. In 1971, several UConn graduate students focused their Business Administration thesis on his business philosophy as demonstrated in the management of the Colonial Townhouse Apartments. A quote from the thesis read, "the word that describes Mr. Foster's personal value system is complete integrity in all dealings with anyone, whether a tenant or subcontractor." In 1988 he was honored by Eastern Connecticut State University at a ceremony making him an honorary member of ECSUs National Honor Society in Business Administration. Foster Development Company's total renovation of the four-story Sears Building at 670 Main St. In 1975 was the initial private enterprise in the city's redevelopment of its downtown area, and was retained by the Foster brothers until their retirement in 2000. It was determined that the building's most productive future would lie in the hands of the Eastern Connecticut State University Foundation. The property was donated to the ECSU foundation in December, 2000. ECSU responded to the generous gift by naming the tower at the focal point of the campus, "The Foster Clock Tower". The Lester and Phyllis Foster Foundation was established in 2003 which will provide ongoing benefit to Willimantic and Mansfield charitable organizations. Lester was predeceased by his wife, Yvette, loving mother of his four children, his brothers, Milton Foster and Robert Foster, and his beloved wife, Phyllis. He is survived by Mark Foster and his partner, Ann Zajchowski, of South Windsor, Suzanne Stone and her husband Carl of Fairfield, IA, David Foster and his wife Marilyn of Hampton, Michael Foster and Stephanie Krowka of West Palm Beach, FL; grandchildren: Benjamin, Jeffrey, and Alexander Stone, Rebecca French, and Ivan Carija; stepchildren: Holly Best and her husband Jack of Denmark, ME, Jeffrey Rhodes and his wife Carol of Denmark, ME, and Heather Rhodes of Mystic. The Foster family expresses their sincere appreciation to the nurses and staff of Windham Hospital and Douglas Manor. Special heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Rosemond Nyarko and Anita Bryant for the wonderful in-home care they provided for the past several years. Funeral services and interment were private. Shiva will be observed at Lesters home at 343 North St., Willimantic through Thursday, May 22nd, evenings at 7:30 PM and Saturday, May 24 at 8:30 PM. Donations may be made to Windham Hospital Auxiliary for the Emergency Room Fund, 112 Mansfield Ave., Willimantic, CT 06226. Arrangements entrusted to Weinstein Mortuary, Hartford.

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