Robert Price Foster passed away peacefully January 13, 2022, at his home in Prescott, Arizona. He was 97. Born to Caleb George Foster and Mary Edith Price Foster of Elk City, Kansas, Bob was the quintessential small town boy. He graduated from Elk City High School in 1941 at age 16, leaving home to attend the College of Emporia with only the $100 in his pocket, earned from his paper route and delivering groceries.
Bob began his military service at 19 when he joined the Marine Corp, later transferring to the Navy to attend officer training school at Bowling Green State University and Northwestern University. He was recruited to the Navy’s Scouts and Raiders (precursor to the Navy Seals) and by the end of his career, had obtained the rank of Lieutenant. Bob served in combat in the south Pacific during the invasion of Okinawa as a gunnery officer aboard the destroyer escort USS Bunch.
In August of 1945, Bob married Deborah Cunningham. Between 1951 and 1955, they had three children: Bob Jr., Bruce and Debby.
Upon his discharge from the Navy, Bob returned to the College of Emporia to complete his degree in political science and business administration. This was followed by a move to southern California to study Social Science and Education at the University of Southern California and a second degree in 1951. He returned to USC to earn a law degree in 1954.
In 1956 Bob joined the Disney Company as general counsel and private counsel to Walt Disney. It was with Disney in the early sixties that Bob began work on a project in Florida. He was instrumental in secretly securing over 27,000 acres of land in the central part of the state for the project that was revealed to the world in 1965 as Disney World. Just before his death, he was acknowledged for these accomplishments by being honored as a Disney Legend. His involvement in Florida prompted a move from California in 1970 with his then wife Betty Jane Bales Foster and their three sons David, Don and Steve (Knisely).
Throughout his life, Bob exhibited humility and an ability to see the possibilities of everything and everyone around him, often to a degree others failed to even imagine. A 1981 letter recently discovered by Bob’s family is an example of this. In later life Bob had gone to work for Sea World. In the letter, the president of the company acknowledged and thanked Bob for the idea of an ingenious innovation that transformed Sea World’s “Shark Encounter” into one of the company’s most popular attractions. Nobody in our family can ever recall any mention of this.
These ideas and contributions exemplify Bob’s ingenuity and creative insight. Humble almost a fault, he never boasted about or ever mentioned many of his life’s accomplishments, some that his family are only now learning about. And he never gave up! Bob possessed a tenacity born of the era that Tom Brokaw referred to as “The Greatest Generation”. His virtues and his quiet strength and dignity will continue to influence his family and all who knew him. Bob loved family, football, fixing things and music. As a father, grandfather and friend, he will be greatly missed.
Bob is proceeded in death by his parents, sister Dortha Jane Foster Rogers, wife Betty Jane Foster and son Robert P. Foster, Jr. He is survived by children Bruce E. Foster, Deborah A. Foster (Swenson), G. David Foster, S. Donald Foster and grandchildren Sarah Foster, Shaun Foster, Leif-Eric Swenson, Blake Swenson, Jared Swenson, Kyle Foster, Jackson Foster, Sonni Foster and Marissa Foster.
The family would like to thank Chris and Andi Remi who were Bob’s caregivers and friends and have become part of our family during his last two years.
Services will be held at Oak Hill Cemetery February 5, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Any that knew Bob or his family are welcome to attend. A celebration of Bob’s life will be held in Arizona at a later date.