Robert Hall Foster

March 21, 1924 – August 14, 2016

March 21, 1924 – August 14, 2016  Robert Hall Foster was born in Portland, Oregon on March 21, 1924 to Robert and Magdalene Foster. As a teenager, he worked with his uncles in the construction trade, learning much about building and carpentry, a skill that he was able to use throughout his life. His true love, however, was aviation. At the age of 12, he received his first ride in an airplane, an open cockpit biplane.  After that,  he was hooked.

In 1942, after graduating from Lincoln High School, he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program. After initial flight training in Bend, Oregon, and then Pasco, Washington, he was then sent to Naval Flight School in Corpus Christi, Texas where he earned his Naval Aviator’s wings. At the age of 19, he was sent to Curacao in the South Caribbean, where he flew anti-submarine patrols while protecting the Panama Canal shipping lanes.

On August 16, 1944, while on leave in Chicago he married the love of his life, Helen Ensor. They would make their first home in Beaufort, South Carolina. When the war was over, they would return to Portland where they would raise a family.

He went back to working in construction, but he still kept his hand in aviation, flying in the Naval Reserves. He was called back to active flight duty during the Korean War, and after the war, he again went back to working construction, but what he really wanted to do was fly.

 In 1957 he was hired by West Coast Airlines, beginning a 25-year career as an airline pilot. In 1960, a transfer brought the family to the Seattle area, where they would finally settle in Mountlake Terrace. Three company name changes and mergers later, he would retire as a Captain for Republic Airlines in 1982.

After retirement, he stayed quite busy. He and our mother, Helen, were very active in the First United Methodist Church of Seattle. With Helen’s love of music, they became members of the Seattle Opera Guild, traveling to Europe and touring many historic sites and homes of the old Grand Masters of Opera.

He bought a boat and christened it the Sitting Duck (the nickname of retired Republic Airlines pilots) and he enjoyed many fishing trips and “nice boat rides” (no fish) with his children and grandchildren. He became a member of the Puget Sound Power Squadron and taught boating navigation classes for the organization, putting to good use the skills he learned in the Navy.

He was a man of integrity who set an unwavering example of what the “Greatest Generation” was all about. Honor and respect and be true to your word. Work hard and take care of your family.

He was preceded in death by his son Richard and wife Helen and beloved cat Harry. He leaves behind his son Gary (Ina) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, daughter Janice of Oceanside, California, son Ronald (Kathy) of Mukilteo, Washington, and grandchildren Richard, Bryan and Stephanie.  

The time has come Pop, to close your final flight plan. It is time to fly home. “You are cleared for takeoff. On runway centerline, throttles up, brakes released. Positive rate, gear up, flaps up… Have a good flight home….”


“And when the goals are reached at last,

When all the flying’s done,

I’ll answer Him with no regret-

Indeed, I had some fun.

So when these things are asked of me,

And I can reach no higher,

My prayer this day – His hand extends

To welcome home a Flyer.”


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