When Foster was born in Lincoln County on June 27, 1918, the Spanish Flu was raging just as COVID-19 is today. At that time, the life expectancy was 36.9 years for men and 42.2 for women. When Foster was just two years old, women were allowed to vote for the first time. Foster’s lived through 17 presidents. When she was nine, Charles Lindberg made his first trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris. When the Great Depression began in 1929, Foster was 11. The Empire State Building was completed when Foster was 14 and she was 16 when FDR was elected president.
Married to the late William Pete Foster for over 50 years, they had 10 children. Eight of them are still living. She also has a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
“My mother is an amazing woman who led by example,” her daughter Bernice Ross said. “She believed in working hard and taught her children to do the same. If there was a little more daylight and a little more cotton to pick, we did it because she said, ‘don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.’ She loved God and her family and taught them to love God and each other.”
Affectionally known as “Mrs. Essie,” “Aunt Essie,” “Mama” and “Grandma,” she was a great cook who always planted a big vegetable garden, canned and preserved what she got from it, and raised pork and chickens. She could feed an army and still have leftovers. Of her 10 children, there are U.S. servicemen, truck drivers, teachers, supervisors, an international lawyer, a nutritionist, a principal, a superintendent, a nurse and the first black Miss Lincoln County.
Foster attributes her longevity to her faith in God and humanity. She is a life-long active member of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Iron Station. She realizes that living for 102 years is quite a blessing and she hopes that the COVID-19 virus will be resolved soon so she can get out of quarantine. It has been most difficult for her and her family to not be able to hug, kiss and hold hands.