Elmer Lee Foster died on Aug. 9, 2018, at the age of 84, less than two months after losing his wife Vivian of almost 50 years.
Born in Oklahoma, his family moved west during the Dust Bowl and eventually settled in the Columbia River Gorge. He grew up fly fishing the little White Salmon; foolishly swinging under the BZ Corner’s bridge, which he referred to as the “little grand canyon;” camping everywhere in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest; and exploring the ice caves.
He left the Gorge to join the USMC and spent time stationed in California and Hawaii. His military service was almost 26 years, with 20 of those in active duty, which included a tour in the Korean War and four tours in Vietnam as part of the Seabees. When asked by his youngest why he volunteered for more tours of Vietnam than was necessary, his answer was that he felt that the kids they were sending were grossly unprepared (his language being more colorful than is fit to print here) and he could protect them. While the response sounds arrogant, if you were one of the very few he let into his world, you would absolutely believe that was true. He retired from service in the 1970s, moving his family back to the Gorge and finishing his working years with the Hood River County School District.
His post-service years were world weary, but filled with the continued business of raising a family and teaching his kids how to fish, to stand up for themselves, to take on bullies by any means necessary, to laugh loudest at themselves, to grow thick skin, to change a tire, to never dumb anything down, to serve overhand, to take pride in being smart, to make a better tool for the job if you couldn’t afford to buy one, that it’s okay and expected of you to say “I don’t know” if you don’t know, that whining isn’t tolerated, to take care of your aging parents, to love your mother and to measure twice and cut once.
Thanks to his oldest child, his post-retirement years were spent golfing. After being in the service, he struggled with the desire to make friends after watching so many perish in war, but golfing with the men’s league at the old golf course saw him finally making a few friends outside of his family. He was a no-nonsense, compartmentalizing, not afraid to say I love you, tough, “rules for a reason”, salty, SALTY old dog and they flat just don’t make them like him anymore.
On behalf of the few of us that were lucky enough to be counted as his loved ones, we thank you for allowing us this opportunity to mourn the fact that we believe the world to be less safe with his passing.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River. Visit www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com to leave a note of condolence for the family.
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