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Stephen Charles Foster passed away on December 6, 2022 in San Diego, California. He was born December 1943 in Colorado to Lois (Elliott) Foster and Paul Foster, the third of three boys.
Steve grew up primarily in Riverside, California and was industrious from the start. He started working at a young age in his family’s corner market (“Foster’s Corner”), maintained a crack-of-dawn newspaper route, learned to landscape for a contractor developing houses, and bussed tables. He earnestly saved to purchase his first Harley motorcycle when just a sophomore in high school. Motorcycles would remain a life-long passion—over the decades to come he would purchase, enjoy and sell (always, proudly, for a profit) other Harleys, Triumphs and dirt bikes.
In March 1961, with the guidance and assistance of his older brother Greg, Steve joined the Navy at the tender age of 17 and embarked on his career as a submariner. He worked in sonar on some of the most well-respected diesel submarines, including the USS Gudgeon (SS-567) and the USS Wahoo (SS-565).
In 1967, Steve married Lorene Ann Geisel from his hometown of Riverside and with whom he spent time growing up as a best friend of her brothers, Jerry and Gene Geisel. Shortly thereafter, the Navy brought them to the beautiful island of Oahu, where their first daughter, Jonette, was born. A few years later the young family was transferred to sunny San Diego where his second and third daughters (Michele and Stephanie) were born. The family did a brief stint in snowy Groton, Connecticut and eventually the Navy settled them back in San Diego. While Steve’s six-month stints on submarines were challenging for the family, nothing was sweeter than the reunions at the dock welcoming him home. Steve retired from the Navy in 1980 as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. Later in life he gave back to the Navy community by volunteering as a docent on the USS Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier.
After his wife Lorene’s untimely passing in 1994, Steve had the great fortune to meet Susan Darling and the good sense to know lightening rarely strikes twice. He married Susan in 2002 and she enriched his life with so much love, adventure and, he often said, “so many things I never would have done.” They relished participating in local community events and volunteer opportunities—from outdoor concerts at Stanley Park to protecting local sea lions and harbor seals at La Jolla Cove—and traveled to far off places exploring their families’ ancestry and some of the world’s other delights (such as beer tasting at Oktoberfest in Munich and cruising the Rhine River).
Steve, a life-long learner, was inclined to occupy himself with quiet activities that engaged his mind and both delighted and challenged his sense of humor. These included fishing, golf, playing the stock market, and buy-and-selling various items on Craig’s List (including golf clubs, depending on his score card the day prior).
Steve shared his knowledge and passions with his nine grandchildren: “PaPa” taught them how to hook a worm and fish, put “a good spin” on the ping-pong ball, invest their money and plan wisely for the future, skip rocks on a lake, and the all-important life skill of spitting watermelon seeds for distance. And he spent countless hours in the bleachers supporting his local grandchildren in various sports and, for those in Seattle, he attentively listened to the latest sports updates and appreciated innumerable Lego creations via weekend Facetime calls.
He enjoyed many of his years with animals of all types by his side, delighting in their varied personalities and antics: Cracker (a perennial contender for the Cutest Ugliest Dog), Solomon the Desert Tortoise, Iggy the Flying Iguana, Fiver the Escape Artist Rabbit, exotic fish of various species, and his beloved Cali (a “Jack Russell” terrier). Animals (and his daughters alike!) knew well the sound of his signature whistle calling them back home.
Steve was often a man of few (but choice) words but all who were lucky enough to be a part of his life received his unconditional support and thoughtful advice (and, occasionally, bore witness to his recognizable head shake signaling perhaps a misstep by someone in the circumstances).
Steve will be sorely missed by his family and friends. He is predeceased by his parents and eldest brother Paul. He is survived by his wife Susan; brother Greg (Hideko); his daughters Jonette (Matt), Michele (Paul), Stephanie (Aaron); his stepchildren John (Vita) and Amy (Craig); and grandchildren Reece, Caden, Audrey, Charlie, Johnny, Gianna, Ezra, Jude, and Sawyer.
A private military service will be held at Miramar National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a tax deductible donation to The Lorene Foster Children’s Fund, benefitting Santee School District students in need and their families (http://www.lorenefoster.org/; Santee School District, ATTN: Lorene Foster Children’s Fund, 9625 Cuyamaca Street, Santee, CA 92071).
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