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Elizabeth Anne Foster



Memorial Contributions

Van Andel Institute

333 Bostwick Ave. NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Thornapple Covenant Church Building Fund

6595 Cascade Rd SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Elizabeth A. (Beth Atkinson) Foster passed away and went to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the early morning of Sunday, August 16, 2020.  She was the elder daughter of Harold E. and Dora M. (Swanlund) Atkinson, who preceded her in death.  She died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. She was born in Grand Rapids and as Beth grew up, she spent many hours working and playing in the Alger Heights and Seymour Squares areas.  Beth went to Alger School, Burton Junior High School, and graduated from South High School in the early 60’s.  She also worked at Modern Pharmacy in Alger Heights where she mastered the art of being a ‘soda jerk.’  Her sodas were fantastic! Beth was always a very good student and received scholarships and grants to attend GRJC/GRCC, the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Biological Station in Northern Michigan.  She was a Biology Major and planned on teaching. After graduation, with her bachelor and master’s degrees, Beth was asked to interview for a teaching position in the Biology Department at GRJC/GRCC.  She interviewed and gladly accepted the job and over the next 40 years taught General Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and wrote many of the individual lab exercises, because acceptable ones were not yet commercially available. By her second year of teaching she felt the need for some different experiences during her summer break, and applied to the National Park Service in Washington, DC.  She not only got a summer job but met her future husband Marine Second Lieutenant Kenneth L Foster from Chicago.  They fell in love and married in May of 1970.  Ken had spent 13 months in Vietnam and his next duty station was Camp LeJeune, in Jacksonville, where they would be living in coastal NC.  Beth seized the opportunity to attend Duke University’s Marine Lab school in Beaufort, NC.  Once again, she was able to attend the private university because she received two National Science Foundation Grants, one for the study of ‘Marine Biology’ and the other for studying the ‘The Flora of North Carolina. She was also honored in March 2015, to receive the ‘The Salute to Women Award’ for her many years of service at the College.  In addition to her involvement in numerous activities at the College, she was active in many non-collegiate groups such as her church and the Swedish American Heritage Society (SAHS) of West Michigan.  Many will remember her Swedish cardamom coffee bread which she made for ‘serving at the coffee table’ to the many guests who attended the group’s ‘Santa Lucia’ festival every Christmas season. Beth is survived by her husband of 50 years, Colonel Kenneth L Foster, and their three daughters; Sarah (Keith) Phillips of Ann Arbor and their sons, Ethan, Liam, and Gavin; Lindsay (James) Brady of Oswego, IL and their daughters, Sophia and Emma; and Julie (Brett) Keck of Cedar, MI and their twin daughters, Chloe and Meredith, and Hannah; her sister and best friend, Mary (Dennis) Schneider of Caledonia; her brothers, Dr. Tim (Rebecca) Atkinson of Owosso, MI, and Dr. Doug (Sue) Atkinson of Grand Rapids, MI;  her sisters-in-law, Mary (Buffy) Villar of Mandeville, LA, Marty (Jim) Maginal of Bloomington, IL; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends whom she loved dearly and tried to see as often as possible. Beth and Ken were founding members in 1979 of Thornapple Covenant Church in Cascade Township.  Memorials in her memory may be made to the following:  Van Andel Institute, 333 Bostwick Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; or Thornapple Covenant Church Building Fund, 6595 Cascade Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.   The family also wishes to thank Emmanuel Hospice and her two loving and devoted caregivers Sue Thomas and Cindy Gallup.  Funeral services will be held Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 11 AM at Thornapple Covenant Church with visitation one-hour prior.  Karen Ingebretson and Steve Armfield, co-officiants.

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One Response

  1. Thinking of you Ken, Lindsey and family. David, PKA and Lucia Oswald, PARSONS COLLEGE, Webster Groves, Missouri, 9/6/2020

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