Editor's Note: This is the final Lowcountry Roots column. Follow Wevonneda Minis as she continues to write for other sections of The Post and Courier.
About Clarice Foster
Name: Clarice Jones FosterAge: 95Community: SummervilleWill be remembered: As a teacher who inspired students to aim higher. She was named Summerville School District Teacher of the Year in 1978.Affiliations Included: Timrod Library, South Carolina Historical Society and Charleston Museum. She also attended St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Summerville and later Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston.Survived by: Two sons, William Lang Foster Jr. (Donna) of Greenwood and Columbia and Timberlake Foster (Pamela) of Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
In the course of a lifetime, most people have many teachers, and each person has a few favorites. If Clarice Jones Foster, a teacher at Summerville High School for 23 years, taught you, she probably was one of your favorites.
Those who sat in her class more than half a century ago, and friends she made over the years, still recall the qualities that made Foster special, qualities she continued to exhibit until she died May 23 at 95.
Foster, who was born Dec. 4, 1916, is described as having been very engaged in life. Her interests included antiques, gardening, genealogy, history, preservation and travel.
“In school, she taught me English and journalism,” says Jaquelin Simons, who kept in contact with Foster over the years. “She was extremely bright, a very smart person. She's probably the finest teacher I have ever had.”
When Simons hitchhiked around Europe in her college days, she thought about Foster as she toured Canterbury Cathedral.
“She had brought it alive for me years before I went there. Teaching was absolutely not a job to her. She gave herself to it.
“She was ordered and organized in her teaching. She appreciated the correct way of doing things.”
While Foster had high standards, she also was accessible, and her students became her friends, Simons says. “We were dear friends.”
“She was so knowledgeable and so sure of herself,” says Peggy Kwist. “She was very interested in helping you and very approachable.”
When Kwist wrote her first essay, she was confident as she turned it in to Foster, she says. Kwist had worked closely with Foster as a writer for the school newspaper and thought she had done a pretty nice job.
“When I got the paper back there was A over an F. An A for content, and an F for grammar. There were run-on sentences. I did not have my mother proofread my work that time, but I did after that.”
As an adult, Kwist and two friends collaborated on “Porch Rocker Recollections of Summerville, South Carolina” (a history with anecdotes). Kwist did the writing. “Before we sent the manuscript to the publisher, the natural thing to do was to take it to Mrs. Foster. It was with some trepidation, but she read it and was so enthusiastic and encouraging.”
Over the years, Foster continued to be invested in her students' lives.
“She was as interested in hearing about your life and your family as she was to talk to you about hers.”
Lynn Roes and Foster had been friends since 1964, she says.
They attended the same church, served on the Timrod Library board together and were in a ladies' luncheon group that met monthly.
Foster and her late husband, William Lang Foster, lived in a showplace of a garden with camellias and other plants people liked to stroll through.
One of their sons served in the diplomatic corps, and they visited him everywhere he was assigned, says Roes. Foster was a great storyteller and would tell wonderful stories when she returned from visiting him in exotic countries. She also was very thoughtful, returning with gifts for all of the ladies in the luncheon group.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.