Bill Foster


Dr. FLORENCE Dr. Bill Foster, 73, passed away Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.Charles William Foster grew up in the mountains northeast of Chattanooga, not far from Daisy, Tenn. He is the sixth generation of his family to be born in the Appalachians. He received his baccalaureate degree from the University of Chattanooga, his masters degree from East Tennessee State University, and his Ph.D from the University of Alabama, specializing in Linguistics, American Literature, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, and American Folklore and African American Fiction. He taught Geography and English at Hixson High School in 1961 and 1962. He taught at East Tennessee State University for one year and the University of Alabama for five years. He was a field-worker for the Dictionary of American Regional English, and was a founder and co-editor of the Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States. He has written numerous articles for learned journals in Linguistics and Folklore, chapters in two books on African American Charles W. Chesnutt, and has also written an award-winning 10-week documentary series for Alabama Public Television.Dr Foster served in the National Guard for nine years involving him in American History events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, Governor Wallaces stand in the door at the University of Alabama and the Selma to Montgomery March. From 1975 to 1995, Dr. Foster, with his wife Anne, and their children, Melissa and Will, traveled the United States as the Foster Family String Band, appearing on national television and on national public radio and averaging 40 weekend concerts per year in 30 states. Their performances included appearances on programs with Bill Monroe, John Hartford, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Doyle Lawson, The Osborne Brothers and Bill Harrell. For five consecutive years the Foster Family was named String Band of the Year at the Bluegrass Music Award Ceremonies in Nashville. One of their awards, along with one of Dr. Fosters banjos, is currently on display in the museum section of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The Foster Family was a featured group in the Memorial Service for Alex Haley (Roots and Queen) at the Museum of Appalachia in 1992. In addition to his musical work, Dr. Foster has been featured on several Alabama Public Television documentaries, has appeared in several motion pictures, such as Walt Disneys Light in the Forest, the Great Locomotive Chase and two Davy Crockett films. He has also been featured as a stand-up comic at the Festival of Appalachian Humor in Berea, Ky. The University of Illinois Press recently released a definitive work entitled Country Music Humorists and Comedians, which features photos and an in-depth interview with Professor Foster.Dr. Foster was a college teacher in Alabama for 44 years, 39 of which were spent at the University of North Alabama, where he served as Chair of the Department of English for 31 years. He also served UNA at various times as Chair of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Director of the Center for English Language Learning. He retired on Aug. 1, 2007. Dr. Foster is also the proud grandpa of Nicholas and Cody Foster.He and Anne celebrated 50 years of marriage on March 24, 2012.At Dr. Fosters request, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Loaves and Fishes, a ministry of Christ Chapel in Bills name. Christ Chapel, 3051 Cloverdale Road, Florence, AL 35630.Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. at Christ Chapel. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will follow at 7 p.m. at Christ Chapel with Pastors Doc Shell and Jimmy Hayes officiating.Elkins Funeral Home of Florence would like to invite you to sign the online registry at

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