Some believe that dying on your birthday is a special blessing. How much more to pass to rest on the celebrated birthday of Jesus Christ? The Association of Adventist Women (AAW) is saddened by the passing of past president Patricia Clark Foster, who had been on hospice care, on Christmas.
Dr. Foster graduated with a BS degree in 1955 from the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University) and went on to complete a master’s degree at Vanderbilt and a PhD from Claremont Graduate University. Foster was an excellent educator, who taught and was involved in administration as academic dean for many years at the Loma Linda University School of Nursing before taking on the presidency of AAW from 2001 to 2003.
Foster was an outstanding president of AAW surrounding its 20th anniversary. As an exceptional educator, she wanted AAW to have clear goals and measurable outcomes. She organized a committee to define the association’s audience and resources and to rewrite its mission and goals, which are still in use today. However, she stated that “we have learned we can never specify all the outcomes at the beginning, and we discovered that there are also worthwhile outcomes that cannot be measured.” Foster helped develop the Champion of Justice Award that recognizes men who have made a significant commitment to support women in Adventist ministry. She was also the only president to use footnotes to academic sources in her communiques!
Jeanne Murdoch relished working with Foster on AAW committees so she could observe her organizational abilities up close. She said Foster appreciated contributions and valued those who could help make project details happen. “She was very affirming,” Murdoch said.
Foster was also a deserving recipient of the Woman of the Year Award for her distinguished career in nursing education. She was also a part-time faculty at the La Sierra University School of Education, where she coordinated their Distinguished Educators Lecture Series. Her field of interest and research was critical thinking in professional students. Dr. Marilyn Herrmann, emeritus dean of the Loma Linda University School of Nursing, remembers her strong support for faculty involvement in research and obtaining advanced degrees.
Pat Foster’s leadership is part of the reason I expect to see competent women leading in church. As a teen, I saw her lead as an elder, adult Sabbath school superintendent, and church board member at Loma Linda University Church. She was also president of the national auxiliary for the Loma Linda University School of Medicine Alumni Association.
As well as her relentless pursuit of excellence, Foster was famous for her warm interpersonal skills. She knew how to read a room. In 2000, she said, “As we face the 21st century, an increasingly diverse community and church have become more fragmented. . . . Making connections means creating a sense of community and collaboration while respecting differences in others.”
Those who worked with Pat Foster observed her mutual partnership with her husband, Glenn, and his willingness to support her leadership. Their mutually respectful marriage was admired by many. Join us in lifting up Glenn and their six children in prayer. May we all strive to create the collaborative, mentoring community that supports strong women and men in every level of the church that she envisioned and modeled.
Nerida Taylor Bates is the current president of the Association of Adventist Women
Photo courtesy of AAW
We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.