According to the News-Gazette, For 24 years, Lynn Foster served as Vermilion County Clerk — the first woman to hold that office, winning six consecutive elections up until November 2014, when she lost the job she loved in her seventh race.
Her daughter, Nicole Foster, now looks back on that election as a blessing, because it allowed her mom to retire from public service, move to New Orleans in May and spend time there with her daughter and her 1-year-old grandson, David.
“It was amazing. They had so much fun together,” Nicole said of the time her David spent with his grandmother, who died Jan. 2 after a short battle with cancer that was diagnosed in late September.
Born in 1949 on a military base in Japan where her father, an Air Force captain, was stationed, Mrs. Foster was the oldest of five children and lived many places growing up. But after attending Purdue University, she eventually moved to Danville, and in 1990, she first ran for county clerk.
This week, many in Vermilion County are mourning the loss of Mrs. Foster, a long-time Danville resident, officeholder and staple in the local Democratic party. Her daughter said a memorial service is being planned in Danville for March 26.
Retired Vermilion County Circuit Court Judge Tom Fahey had known Mrs. Foster and her husband, David Foster, who died in January 2014, for more than 30 years.
He said the Fosters defined what they wanted to do and tried to achieve it. Mrs. Foster, who was smart, knew her job and treated everyone pretty much the same, never acting partisan, he said.
“Lynn busted her fanny for 24 years, and less than a year later, she is dead. It just seems so unfair,” Fahey said. “She was going to spend time with her grandchild and Nikki, making a new life in New Orleans. I guess life is like that.”
Jerry Block, a former Vermilion County Circuit Clerk and county board chairman, said Mrs. Foster was easy to get along with and she could always explain election code well.
Vermilion County Circuit Judge Nancy Fahey said Mrs. Foster was a dear friend to both her and her husband, Tom, and an integral part of their professional success. Fahey said she’ll miss being able to talk with her friend and bounce ideas off her.
“She was passionate about everything in life — her family and her home life and her profession. She carried it through to all aspects of her life and to friendships as well,” Fahey said.
For years, Mrs. Foster was a central committeeperson for the state Democratic party, and also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She was the first woman elected as a voting member of the Danville Township trustees. In 2012, she was one of six area women the Girl Scouts honored as Central Illinois Women of Distinction.
Mrs. Foster was also an executive board member and past president of the Breakfast Kiwanis, a volunteer at CRIS Senior Services and the Westville Senior Center, and a board member for the Danville Area Food Pantry and Catholic Charities.
From an early age, Nicole Foster said she remembers going with her mom to county clerk and political functions, especially during Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. There was never really a time when work and home were separate, she said, adding that her mom lived the Democratic party.
“It was who she was,” she said.
But she also was a good mom and a great cook, always insisting they sit at the table and eat together, her daughter said. And the meals were anything but routine — Hungarian goulash, for example.
“They didn’t do kid food at my house,” Nicole said, recalling that her mom was also an excellent baker, making all kinds of cookies around the holidays and often sending her a box full of them. One time, she said, they counted 30 different kinds of cookies in a box her mom sent.
Stepson Lee Gregg Foster also moved from Danville to New Orleans earlier this year to be with the family. Among the things he’ll miss: the grounded discussions he had with his stepmom, often over pie she had baked.
She was the reason he and his dad reconnected after some rocky times in their relationship.
“After talking to Lynn, I always had the ability to do the next right thing,” he said. “I’m going to miss her a lot.”