Funeral Services Program
Alton Scott Foster
born 28 February 1917 - died 2 January 2012

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Summary of
Dad’s Personal History of Alton Scott Foster
as given by Gary Foster at his funeral on 10 January 2012

v In an email recently received from a staff member of one of my sons, it reads:  Thury informed me of your father's passing today. I wanted to offer my sincerest condolences. I think Alton S. Was a fantastic example of how a life can be lived to its fullest, what a legacy he leaves behind. I love the example that he set for his children and the fact that you have maintained that same example for your children, and that your children are doing the same. I never met your father; yet feel I know a tiny part of who he was. Thury gifted me one of Alton’s pens several years ago. It remains one of my most treasured possessions, when I touch its smooth surface I never fail to be thankful of the skilled hands that made it and remember that good decent men are still out there. I know he will be missed by those who loved him most dearly. 
Sincerest Regards, Sharon Powell Garcia

Ø Many hundreds have also treasured to themselves and their family’s articles of wood that Dad has created in his workshop since his retirement at age sixty four over 30 years ago.

 

Ø Dad loved to shop at Safeway and talk with the cashiers, the meat counter manager and Frank the bagger.  He knew all their names and even shared his wooden handiwork with them.

 

Ø He purposely went shopping to not only buy his groceries but to seek out someone he could share a pen with.

 

Ø He approached strangers, introduced himself and pulled out a custom pen from his pocket and gave it to them as a gift.

 

Ø While riding in the stores electric shopping carts he would select his groceries and put them in his basket.  When trying to get a can or package from a high shelf he would take his walking cane out of the basket and hook the item in such a way he could make it fall into his hands.

 

Ø Shoppers seeing him do this they would run to assist him and he would thank them and give them a pen or a missionary pass along card depending on what he thought they needed most.

 

Ø Many people here today have some of his handiwork in their homes and know how much he wanted to share what he had with others.

 

v These characteristics along with being honest, faithful and friendly were learned by him during his long life.  From these events he formed mental pictures of how he was to act.  Some lessons he learned very well and others he left this life unfinished.

Ø He told me many times he had failed in raising his children to be close and fully active in the church.  He said he just didn’t know how to be a better father.  He says he didn’t observe from any of his mother’s four marriages by the time he graduated from High School how a man endeared his children to him.  How to keep them close to each other and even how to call or go visit them.  I think he thought they were supposed to come to him.  But then he moved to so many communities all over the state that twenty years went by in the lives of his grandchildren with only a few visits here and there.

Ø It will be up to my two brothers and sister to mend these broken relationships as best we can.

Ø He told me he would do better in the next life with them.  He knew he would have to report on his children to his wife Elsie and feared that more than dying.

Ø He told me he wasn’t afraid to die, just that he wanted to take all his friends with him…

Ø I told Dad that his friends were already deceased and the friends he was referring to were my friends… and they weren’t ready to go just yet.

v Some of Dad’s early memories that helped him develop his beliefs and characteristics are based on these events.

Ø Dad told me he never saw his mother and father holding hands or kiss.

Ø His parents divorced when he was three years old and his mother moved from New Mexico to Arizona on the railroad to Globe where her step sister lived.

Ø He said Aunt Clara was his second mother and one to be feared.  Though her stature was short her built in fire engine attitude got her through many tough situations and she took Alton with her.

§  One day in her Model A Ford a big red menacing bull stood right in her roadway.  She honked the horn with her right hand and reached for the engine crank with her left.

§  Dad said she rushed that bull and beat him with her engine crank until he moved out of her pathway… then the bull looked at Dad as if to say, “Who is that woman?”

§  Her father living with her came back from the outhouse without his false teeth & told Aunt Clara he lost them in the privy because his homemade moonshine was blowing up in the shed and he drank all of them to not let it go to waist, then lost his stomach and his teeth.

§  She told him to go fetch them… so he did what Aunt Clara told him to do.

§  Alton outside spotted an Indian sneaking up to the window sill to steal one of Aunt Clara’s pies set out to cool.  Alton called for Aunt Clara and she appeared on the back porch with her double barreled shotgun.  She let his backside have both shots and Alton saw the Indian holding his bottom as he ran away.

v Alton’s mother took him at the age of 6 to get a job and help with the costs of living.  He worked in the Piggly Wiggly market in Globe all during his elementary years.

Ø During the depression years he observed one woman telling him that the bank teller had just closed the window in front of her and not allowing her to have her $110 in savings.

Ø Another man told him all he wanted in life was a job so he could support his family.

Ø The meat cutter told Alton that if he lost a finger due to an occupational accident the State of Arizona would pay him for his loss… so one day the butcher slipped with his knife and lost a finger and paid his overdue bills.

§  This same butcher helped Alton get even with a little doggy that came prancing into the store once a week and pee’d on the flour sacks.  Alton then had to clean it up.  The butcher taught Alton how to have revenge on that little doggy because on the next visit he hiked his leg, the stream of water flowed and the little doggy flew to the end of his leash with a shocking yelp.

§  Alton and the butcher had woven a bare copper wire to the soggy sack of flour, connected it to an old Ford spark coil and pushed the switch…

§  His mother Mable married the chief of police and moved Alton here to the valley to graduate from Phoenix Union High School.

·       But Mable eventually tired of Frank the policeman/mechanic and replaced him with Carl the milkman until… his milk turned sour.

·       Then there was a man named Keaton who didn’t last long enough to remember his first name.

v Alton learned to build and fly model airplanes.

Ø One day his friends called the tower at Sky Harbor Airport and asked if they could launch their airplanes from the concrete runway… he said, “Sure, we don’t have an airplane due here until four o’clock.”

Ø Alton saw his model airplane catch a gust of wind and fly out of sight clear up through the clouds and it was gone.

Ø A month or so later a farmer in Prescott called the 5 digit phone number on the wing of the plane and told Alton he would return his model plane to him the next time he was in Phoenix.

Ø One of Alton’s school teachers told him that he was smart enough to do whatever he wanted to in life but that he didn’t apply himself enough in school to get the highest grades that he could.

Ø That set in motion for Alton to work harder in his occupations and do his best which he did and perhaps to the exclusion of his family time.

Ø Alton then heard about the Mormon girls in Mesa that liked to dance at the Mezona on Friday nights.

§  Alton liked to dance and especially with a beautiful blonde headed girl with blue eyes by the name of Elsie Gale.

§  Excitedly Elsie told her mother about the tall brown haired good looking boy that treated her so kindly and she loved him so.

§  Her mother warned her about the boys that lived clear over there in Phoenix… that they weren’t like us and didn’t believe as we did.

§  Elsie excitedly told her mother that he would change his lifestyle for her… but this promise was not to be fulfilled for the next fourteen years of marriage.

§  Alton proposed to Elsie to elope and join him in Prescott where he was now working as a Lucky Strike Salesman.

§  She had wanted a temple marriage for time and all eternity.  She had wanted her mother present at her wedding and all her brothers and sisters but Alton wanted her and she wanted Alton.  They were married in Wickenburg on their way to Prescott.

v A year later Gary was born weighing in at 5 pounds and 2 ounces.  They brought me home is a shoebox or so I was told.

Ø Dad was now a father and changed occupations learning to be a firefighter at Williams Air Force Base, east of Chandler.

Ø Then Rick was born at 7 pounds 4 ounces.  He was a fat cute little baby boy and Dad liked to play with him.  Elsie’s brother’s called him Porky.

v Dad was now a father of two sons and he got a letter in the mail telling him he was drafted into the remainder of WWII.

Ø He got his basic training in a company of 300 men at FT Leonardwood, Missouri.

Ø His company was about to be shipped out overseas except for three names were called to fall out for a different assignment.

Ø Alton was told his assignment was secret and to board the next train for New Mexico.  He was met there and driven to the desert and told to get out and wait for another truck that would come for him.

Ø The next morning Alton found he was stationed at Los Alamos Military base not listed on any map in the deserts of New Mexico.

Ø His assignment was to teach fire prevention to the scientists and military personnel stationed there.  With all the chemicals and explosives present they didn’t want any fires.

Ø Shortly, he was trucked 200 miles south into the desert, issued a dark pair of sun glasses and told to observe an explosion 10 miles away from the protection of a trench.

Ø Atop a Stainless Steel tower a massive bomb called Trinity was detonated as a test to see if what the scientists thought would happen would… and it did by a lot more than some had thought and less than others had feared!

Ø Not since the creation of this Earth had such a chain reaction taken place with the splitting of the atom but this time by man.

Ø The pillar of fire, mushroom cloud, strong winds and unknown radioactive particles fell all over the men, seared cattle feeding in the desert and blew men off their feet.

Ø Afterwards the men approached the tower and concrete pad which had completely disintegrated and melted the desert sand into glass particles.

Ø The men scooped the melted glass into their pockets until they got back to the base and had to dump them out because of their radioactivity.

Ø A month later President Truman okayed the use of the next two atom bombs, Little Boy and Fat Boy, to be dropped on Japan to bring WWII to a close and save a million men in arms, both American and Japanese, to lose their lives in a man to man battle.

Ø Alton survived the dropping of the first Atom bomb from America over his head on the Sands of New Mexico in the United States and lived to tell about it.

Ø The War was now over and Alton and his family returned to WAFB east of Chandler to continue as an assistant fire chief for the next 14 years.

v Steve was born as the happiest and fattest of Mom and Dad’s three sons.

§  Steve got the cream, Rick got the milk and I got the 2%.

Ø   We all enjoyed playing with Steve and eventually teaching him to walk and to not be carried.

Ø Mom suffered baby blues for many weeks after his birth and Dad thought he was going to lose her.  Jess’s wife cared for baby Steve during the days, relatives watched Rick and I and Dad spent his evenings at Elsie’s bedside.

Ø Elsie wasn’t getting better… Dad was scared… This time he began to pray like he had never done before.  “Save Elsie, please save Elsie, YES, I will listen to the missionaries this time.  Please help her to get well!”

Ø “If so, I will… (Never bargain with God, he is always listening and can and will answer your prayers.)”

Ø God was patiently waiting for Alton to ask for Him to be part of His life and restored Elsie to her health, she returned home and as promised the missionaries were invited into our home to learn the ways of God and of his promises for the greatest happiness for man on this Earth and the eternities to come.

Ø Mother’s promise to her mother was now fulfilled.  Alton was a member of the Church.

Ø Dad asked many questions and came to know who God was and the atonement of the Savior.  His sins were repented of; he was baptized by a Stake Missionary, Brother Morris from Queen Creek.

Ø Fifty years later while serving in the Mesa Arizona Temple, another volunteer worker looked at my name badge as I looked at his.  He asked if I knew a man named Alton Foster.  I said I do.  He said, my father baptized your father.

Ø Here we stood shaking hands and realizing that we, sons of our fathers, a lifetime later, were active in the church and worthy to serve together in the temple of God.

Ø Our family responded in support and we attended Church together and we became a well knit family happy in the Gospel and grateful for our parents.

v Dad felt after 14 years as a fireman living on a military base that he needed to move into town so his family would have a better environment to be raised in.

Ø They chose Tempe and Dad began part time working for George Dana at Dana Motor cars.  He loved and respected George and the great example he set for all who knew him.

Ø The desire to improve Mom’s health caused our parents to leave Arizona and use Mom’s hay fever nose as our guide as to which state to live in.

Ø We traveled the West for two months and liked Seattle, Washington a lot but Dad couldn’t find work there right away.  They chose Utah and put the boys into school.  Dad was offered employed as a butcher the very next day and by the end of church that day we had a fully furnished home to rent for $85 dollars a month.  Another answer to our prayer, of where should we live?

Ø Upon high school graduation, Gary went into the Army for basic training and while there got a most interesting telegram from home.

Ø Mom, thinking she would never have a daughter went to work, ate the cafeteria food she was cooking and became pregnant.

Ø The stork directly from heaven brought our family of three boys a baby girl named Sheri to live with us.  She was definitely different from the boys.  She made lots of noise and occupied our mother’s complete attention.  Remember, Steve got the cream, Rick got the milk, Gary got the 2%, and well Sheri got whatever she wanted!

Ø Dad went to work again with more mouths to feed, Rick and Steve continued to attend school and now Gary as a missionary to support.

Ø Dad now held down three jobs to make ends meet.  He was doing the best he could with the smarts he had.

Ø While in Utah, Dad became a sales manager for Ken Garff and sharpened his skills of meeting people and making everyone feel good with their new vehicle and with doing business with him.

Ø George Dana visited Alton and made him an offer he could not refuse to be his new car sales manager back in Tempe, AZ.

Ø Elsie was excited to return to her Gale family in Arizona.

Ø Alton, Elsie, Steve and Sheri moved to Tempe, Rick continued to work in Utah and Gary completed his mission and returned home to a different ward and different state than from where he left from.

Ø Alton was now working one job as a Sales manager at Dana Brothers where he continued for the next 17 years.  While there he got to know the best people he had ever known.

Ø George Dana gave the checkbook to Dad and told him he was the most honest man he had ever known… and that he had full authority to buy any number of cars or trucks he could find.

Ø As Dana Brothers closed, Dad retired and began building the first of three cabins in Strawberry, AZ.

§  Each cabin he loved, especially the first and the third one.

§  His mother came to live with him in the third cabin, where Dad and his family helped to plant 300 Apple trees.

§  Alton was called to be Bishop of the Pine Ward and Elsie was so proud of him.  She prepared the Sunday Bulletin and kept his clothing clean and neat for Sunday because during the week he wore his working clothes and looked so grubby.  She said, “He cleans up so nicely.”

§  Elsie’s health began to fail, her cancer spread and she was dying.  Dad was her caretaker to the end and beyond.

v On the last day of Dad’s life, he was only communicating with us by moving his head yes or no.

Ø Janet asked him if he wanted anything and he said his last two words, “Ice Cream”.  She gave him ice cream as his last food.

Ø Later he raised his right hand and waved to greet someone, his lips moved by no words were spoken… we all looked around and asked, “Is Elsie here?”

Ø Shortly later with our good friends Steve and Donna Myers present his breathing relaxed and his heart rested.

Ø Dad was gone from our lives having lived his life as he did.  He was not perfect but he was learning to become better and better…

Ø Paraphrasing Paul Harvey, go to Dad’s website listed in the program and you will learn the rest of the story…

Ø I now say to our father the words spoken between us every night for the past 7 ½ years, “Goodnight Pops, I will see you in the morning”.

Ø These things I share with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.