The life and legacy of Brother Francis Merrill Foster, Sr. was impactful to Richmond, Virginia and to the Commonwealth of Virginia, both as a dentist and a historian. Brother Foster grew up in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, and graduated from the historic Armstrong High School. He completed his undergraduate studies at Virginia Union University, where he was initiated into Omega’s Zeta Chapter.
After graduating from Virginia Union University, Brother Foster attended the Howard University School of Dentistry and upon graduation from dental school, he was enlisted in the United States Army. As a military man, Brother Foster practiced dentistry in the Philippines and Guam, before returning to Jackson Ward where he practiced dentistry from 1948 to 1989.
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Dentistry invited Brother Foster to join its faculty in 1992. For 16 years, Dr. Foster taught and created opportunities for aspiring dentists, influencing and uplifting many who were African-American. After his passing in 2008, an endowed scholarship at VCU, the Dr. Francis M. Foster, Sr. – Student National Dental Association Scholarship, was established in his name. In 2015, VCU named one of its academic buildings after him and over the course of his life Brother Foster held statewide appointments in the Commonwealth of Virginia for seven (7) Governors.
Dr. Francis was a recognized authority on Richmond history, particularly the history of Jackson Ward and race relations in the city. When the members of the History and Archive Committee learned of his interest in history, we were naturally uplifted. When not practicing dentistry or teaching (and often while doing both), Brother Francis was known for his sleight of hand. Brother Francis was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, as he was a skillful and entertaining magician. Although a serious man, in the true Omega spirit, he was no grind. It made us recall Herman Dreer’s description of Founder Oscar J. Cooper in the “Blue Book”. In describing Founder Cooper, Dreer shared – “In his pursuit of knowledge, Brother Cooper was no “grind.” He liked to work hard to achieve great ends, but he believed that the worker increased his efficiency by interspersing his labors with wholesome recreation. Thus did Oscar Cooper ripen into the capable physician.” And, so it was for Brother Foster.
As was instilled in him by his father, Brother Foster often passed on to anyone who would listen that “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice, there’s not a right way to do a wrong thing, and being a good neighbor in community service is a rent we pay for being here.”
Please make it a priority to click the following links to learn more about Brother Doctor Francis Merrill Foster, Sr.
Thank you once again for Walking the Ward with us.
Make it a great week Brothers. Be noble!
3rd District History and Archives Committee
The Monday Pearl is provided by the Third District History and Archives Committee and is a weekly sharing of fraternity content, commentary, and research of historical value we hope Brothers will enjoy and from which Brothers will draw inspiration. Previous “Pearls” can be found at https://3rddistrictques.org/about-us/overview/monday-pearl/. The Committee encourages your feedback. Should you have reactions, comments, information, anecdotes, documents, and the like, related to any of the content we share, we’d very much like to hear from you. Please send all communication to email@example.com.