Obituary: Willett S. Foster III, 1920-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Willett S. Foster III, 1920-2023 

Burlington man was lifelong swimmer and tennis player well into his nineties

Published November 29, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated November 29, 2023 at 7:25 a.m.

Willett Foster III - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Willett Foster III

Willett (Bill) Foster died peacefully at the age of 103 on November 24, 2023.

He was born on November 11, 1920, to Willett Sherman Foster and Lucille Pierson Foster in East Orange, N.J.

The family moved to Burlington, Vt., around the time of his father’s posting at Fort Ethan Allen.

Bill attended Adams School and then Staunton Military Academy for grades 7-12. He received his bachelor’s degree in business from Colgate University in 1942, along with his commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and in May of that year married Mary Brewster Manning, also of Burlington.

Bill served his country during WWII as part of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). After the war, Bill and Mary returned to Burlington, where he began his career in business at the E.B. and A.C. Whiting Company. Later, he joined the Edlund Company and became the owner and president in 1962.

Bill traveled the world, building the company into an international business. He was active in the leadership of many business and trade associations and served as a director of the Vermont Federal Savings and Loan, Champlain College and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Bill also was involved in local human service organizations, as a director at the Elizabeth Lund Home and the Greater Burlington YMCA, among others. He was a founding member of the Burlington Tennis Club, as well as the revitalized Lake Champlain Yacht Club.

Bill and Mary raised three boys, Will, Steve, and Jim, all of whom joined him in business, prior to his retirement in 1976.

Bill and Mary enjoyed many years of winter residence in Naples, Fla., where they made many dear friends on and off the tennis courts.

Bill’s family attributes his long and healthy life not only to good fortune and self-discipline that learned at an early age in military school, but also to being a lifelong swimmer and tennis player well into his nineties.

Bill is survived by his sons, Steve (Meg), and Jim (Liz); his daughter-in-law, Frances Foster; his grandchildren, Wendy Farrington (Chris), Marsi Foster (Matt Bourgault), Cate Boerema (Thomas), Libby Foster (Bill Gamber), Jeb Foster (Elizabeth Train), Caroline McKibben (Sean), and Witt Foster (Melissa).

Bill was predeceased by his beloved wife of 66 years, Mary; his son, Will; his sister, June VanEtten; and his grandson, Evan. He is also survived by his 11 great grandchildren; Pierce, Christina, Alex, Zealy, Perry, Nica, Anton, Fritz, Will, Teddy and Addie.

At Bill’s request, there will be no service. The family will gather in celebration of his life at a date to be determined.

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