‘Father Bill’ Foster, 83, longtime GJ priest, dies

Father Bill Foster was a priest on the Western Slope for more than 50 years and served as the pastor of St. Matthews Episcopal Church until his retirement. He died Sunday.

The Rev. “Father Bill” Foster had a keen eye for who showed up for sermons at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

“This one Sunday, a woman was walking out of church and (Foster) says, ‘Joy, nice to see you again,’ Howard Ebright of Grand Junction said Monday.

Ebright, who worked 17 years as Foster’s assistant at St. Matthew’s, says he was stumped that Sunday morning about who “Joy” was.

“Well,” Foster replied, “she was here during summer vacation two years ago.”

R.W. “Father Bill” Foster, a Grand Junction resident of 46 years who led St. Matthew’s Episcopal 29 years before his retirement in 1992, died Sunday at Hospice Care Center.

He was 83.

Friends on Monday remembered an outgoing, well-liked man who liked to work world history into his sermons and always was quick with a joke.

“It was just a pleasure to know that man,” Ebright said. “He was a good family man and a real asset for the clergy.”

Ebright remembers a man passionate about golf — among the first members of Bookcliff Country Club — who also enjoyed big-game hunting and fishing.

“He was all man,” Ebright said.

Rich Emerson, another St. Matthew’s worshipper, sat through Foster’s first local Christmas Eve service in 1963 — his four children were baptized by Foster.

“He was certainly a father figure to many of us,” Emerson said. “Just a very wise man who was very deep into Scripture, and always willing to engage you in a conversation.”

Bill Foster’s 60-year career as an Episcopal priest saw him hitting the road with his father, John, across western Colorado to deliver sermons at several churches.

“He’ll be missed,” Emerson said.

Foster is survived by his wife, Sharon; two sons, Robert Foster of Moscow, Russia, and Kelley Fetter of Albuquerque, N.M.; five daughters, Lynn Damiani of Prescott, Ariz., Layne Racht of Brevard, N.C., Gaylynn Hoffman of Silverdale, Wash,  and Elizabeth Harris and Alison Geer, both of Grand Junction; 15 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at St. Matthew’s.


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