“Goodness gracious great balls of fire.” My Dad almost certainly sang this Jerry Lee Lewis favorite as he entered the pearly gates. He was like a jukebox. Insert quarters, and out comes a song – spontaneously, uniquely, connecting to your soul. Singing a tune just for you, he was lovingly the joyful maestro! Dad passed fathers day weekend, at home in the same place, the same room where Mom passed in 2015. Their home was where together they lived and made memories for themselves and their family.
I see it as a memorial to the best dad ever –no pomp and circumstance, but a passage that was all in God’s perfect time. One week before he passed, my parents would have celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. Dad asked his four children to circle the wagons. He politely asked if he could change his address to heaven.
A dear childhood friend of my father’s, and by grace, now mine, made this statement to me following my father’s death, “They say a parent’s first job is to show their kids how to live, and their second job is to show their kids how to die.”
Your father did those things so very well, said Greg Walta. These words ultimately tell his story. The vignettes filled the pages of his storybook with richness and glory. Dad placed a high value on fun and wrapped up everything he did in a happy package. The central focus of my father’s world was good guy stuff.
Here is an example of how he could make you laugh at an implausible moment. Six years ago, Mom lived nearly 12 months after receiving news of her deadly diagnosis. Dad temporarily but immediately stepped out of the office to be by her side. This particular scene takes place around 2:22 a.m. at home. Mom is awake and restless. She is significantly weaker and needs assistance to get to the bathroom. Everyone is exhausted, yet Dad is jackrabbit quick to her side. I’m there too. I stay close, so my body can cushion what would be a domino-style fall. Mom stops a lot on the trip. Dad talks to her with patience, asking, “who’s the one we love?” and answering his question, “Susie’s the one we love!”. A smile comes to her lips, hiding her pale complexion and dim eyes. She is still a beauty. Dad, triggered by her sunken spirit, seized the opportunity and busts out, “ What can make me feel this way?...my girl, my girl,” The Temptations. Dad’s musical rift put smiles onto all of our faces and in our hearts. I laugh out loud. We all felt like giving up, but Dad made it all right. Dad was born in Brookings, South Dakota, to Mary and Rudolph Foerster. Rudy managed the family-owned distributing company, Foerster Beverage and Mary seemingly effortlessly made a beautiful home while raising five mischievous children. Dad was a good student and athlete at Brookings High School and attended South Dakota State University.
Acknowledging a dismal grade point average, Dad realized his love of beer, Rock and Roll, and hometown shenanigans were not consistent with his desire to attend medical school. After he transferred to St. John University in Minnesota, he became a serious student.
Dad gained admission to Marquette University Medical School. After his freshman year, he married my mom, Susan Mary Wolter, also raised in Brookings (although she claimed St. Paul, Minnesota). Dad studied at a desk in the basement of their apartment, and Mom worked as a physical therapist. Dad graduated near the top of his class and began their life of mutual focus, drive, love, support, and fun. The first child, my sister Shelly arrived while my father was in medical school.
Following an internship in Denver, he became a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force. My father proudly served his country. He fulfilled his commitment to the Air Force, then moved his young family to Bellevue, Washington. One boy and girl twin arrived just before their move. He completed a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Washington Medical Center.
In 1973, Dad moved the young family of five and the adored dog Snowmass to Colorado Springs. As a founding member of Colorado Eye Associates, he was a distinguished ophthalmologist and mastered his trade over the next 47 years. Dr. Bob was committed to his patients, partners, and the Colorado Springs Community. A fourth child, Michael, was born soon after their move to Colorado Springs. Their roots grew stronger in friendship and community.
He loved his work but paused briefly from his practice to care for his beloved and terminally ill wife. My mom died on Mother’s day, May 9, 2016. Dad would return to practice Ophthalmology until COVID and pancreatic cancer prompted his reluctant retirement.
My father suffered the indignity and imposition of cancer and the Covid pandemic with similar resolute strength. He endured chemotherapy, and despite social distancing, he balanced and embraced the time he had with his family and friends.
Every Fall, he prepared and distributed a delightful condiment that took his name “Good Guy Relish.” Dad was a Denver Broncos fan- through thick and thin. His Bronco Cackle Call will pass down through generations as a family heirloom.
He was a decent shot (if you asked him), and the yearly pheasant hunting trips to South Dakota with family and friends were legendary.
Dad and Mom enjoyed gathering with family and friends at their neighborhood clubs. To honor my father’s passing, both establishments flew our national flag at half-mast ( not in line with Federal Law).
There is so much that is good and worth emulating about my father. My Dad loved all of his family and made each of us feel special and important in ways only he could pull off. I frequently remember my father telling mom she was a “ true beauty and a smart cookie.” He had the same gift with friends and patients, and many enjoyed his compassion and empathy.
We will all miss him in our way. I hope many will continue to live on with Dad (and Mom) in your hearts. Here are a few ideas for how to celebrate my Dad. Infuse a few “Bobisms” into your routine. Occasionally, give a Bronco Cackle Call when you encounter good news or experience an exciting event. Alternatively, rattle off, “Tutti frutti, oh rootie, Tutti frutti, oh rootie, A wop bop a loo bop a lop ba boom,” Little Richard.
If you enjoy a Coors banquet stubby and bratwursts, remember my father and his “Good Guy Relish.” Smile easily, be forgiving of others, and laugh often. Prost, German for “Cheers”. Bob’s Celebratory Mass is Friday, July 30th, at 4:00 pm at Saint Paul Catholic Church, 9 El Pomar Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Reception to follow Cherishing the memories are his sister Rosemary Robertson, brothers, David Foerster, Steve Foerster, Jimmy Foerster, and children, Shelly Trimble (Tom), Bobby Foerster (Marina), Keri Allmacher (David), and Michael Foerster (Hailee); and grandchildren Courtney and Allison Trimble, Oksana Lower and Sofia Katerina Foerster, Craig, Michael, and Sarah Grace Allmacher; Johnny Lukas Foerster.