, Gloucester, MA

February 25, 2013

Charles Clinton "Charlie" Foster, 83

Gloucester, MA — Mr. Charles Clinton "Charlie" Foster, 83, husband of Marilyn J. (Goodwin) Foster of Gloucester, died on Friday, February 22nd at home surrounded by loving family and friends.

He was born and raised in Gloucester, the son of the late Clinton Crowell Foster and Mabel Irene (Jacobs) Foster. Charlie was a graduate of Gloucester High School, Class of 1949, where he participated in ROTC as a member of the Rifle Team and Marching Band. He attended Burdett College where he studied business administration.

Charlie served his country as a member of the US ARMY 31st Infantry Division.

After being discharged from the army, he returned home to Gloucester where he met and married the love of his life, Marilyn. Marilyn and Charlie spent the next five decades raising a family and growing a successful family business.

Charlie’s father, Clinton, purchased the property at 103-107 Eastern Avenue while Charlie was in the army. Clinton located his business there, Foster’s Oil Company, and added a small Esso gas station - two gas pumps and a small office. Gasoline was 22 cents per gallon. Charlie joined his Dad in the business in 1952 and it began to grow, and grow, and grow! Marilyn and Charlie purchased his father’s share of the business in 1957. There were expansions and changes over the years, too many too mention. At the height of his career, Charlie owned and operated five retail gas stations, an auto repair shop, diesel stop and weekend racing tire division. Life was busy. But Charlie never lost sight of who he was and was always there to offer a helping hand to friends in need. He won numerous awards from the racing tire industry and civic awards for the lovely gardens he grew and maintained at his gas stations. Charlie was a true mentor and brought many employees up through the ranks. His work ethic and attention to detail and customer service was instrumental to many that went on to open their own successful businesses. There are hundreds of friends and acquaintances that can claim “Foster’s” as their first place of employment. For a while, it seemed working for this great entrepreneur was a rite of passage for a good portion of Gloucester’s youth, especially the boys.

In addition to taking care of family and business, Charlie enjoyed gardening, boating, fishing, and bowling. He bowled with various leagues every season for over 50 years. Later in life, Charlie enjoyed visiting Marco Island each winter with Marilyn and spending time with friends they had made down there.

Charlie was a long-time member of the Gloucester Rotary Club and strongly believed in the Club’s mantra of “Service above Self”. Since his induction in 1977 he supported all of the Club’s humanitarian and civic endeavors. Together with his fellow Rotarian, Howard Frisch, he co-chaired the annual Pancake Breakfast which over the past 25 years has raised a quarter of a million dollars for the Senior Center, the North Shore Health Project, and the Open Door. In recognition of his efforts, Charlie was awarded Rotary’s highest honor in 2006 – selected as a Paul Harris Fellow.

The Chamber of Commerce was also a major recipient of Charlie’s talents. Over the past 40 years, all of Foster’s enterprises have been active supporters of the Chamber, and Charlie himself served on numerous committees, including the annual Auction, government affairs, the Waterfront Festival, and many membership drives. In recent years, he took on leadership roles in the organization, serving on the Board of Directors and advising Presidents and Executive Directors. He also represented the Chamber and the business community on the Board of Action, Inc. a position he agreed to check out in the mid-1980’s and which he filled for over 25 years, offering important guidance and support to Gloucester’s principle anti-poverty agency. All of his civic contributions were recognized in 2007 when he was chosen as the CACOC Businessman of the year.

There were other commitments to the community as well. Charlie belonged to the Knights of Columbus, served on the Board of the First National Bank of Ipswich, helped establish the Gloucester Fireworks Committee, and supported the St Peter’s Fiesta. And then came the morning of January 26, 2009 when Charlie, 79, helped rescue a neighbor who’s house was on fire – a heroic action for which the American Red Cross saluted Charlie with its Community Hero Award in 2009.

In addition to his wife, with whom he shared 56 years of marriage, he is survived by his four children, Capt. David Foster and wife Elizabeth Foster of Gloucester, Peter Foster and his wife Diana Foster of Rockport, Sheryl Foster-Dardas and her husband David Dardas of New Hampshire, Susan Foster and her fiancé William Aaron of Gloucester; grandchildren Colby Foster, Michael Foster, Selin Kiran, Kathryn Aaron, and William Aaron III; his sister Lois (Foster) Reed of Gig Harbor Washington; and nephews and niece, Dana Reed, Douglas Reed, Karen Wright and their families.

ARRANGEMENTS: His funeral will be held from the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington St., Gloucester, on Wednesday morning, February 27, at 8:45 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, 142 Prospect St., Gloucester at 9:30 a.m.

Visiting hours in the Greely Funeral Home will be on Tuesday from 4 – 8 pm. Relatives and friends are cordially invited.

The burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Gloucester.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the Gloucester Rotary Club Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1228, Gloucester, MA 01930.

Online condolences and guest book are available at