In Tribute: Former pastor defies doctor’s predictions

By Tony Gutierrez: CNJ staff writer

When Otis Foster had a stroke, doctors predicted he wouldn’t make it through the night. The Baptist deacon, farmer and grandfather of 30 defied the odds for 18 years before he died May 16. He was 96.

“I told my dad he was a bull, he was going to make it, and he lived 18 years since,” said Foster’s daughter, Pearl Bryant.

Foster was born Oct. 11, 1915, in Kirvin Frees, Texas. He married Arenetta Moore in 1935 and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

After working at Worley Mills for 20 years, Foster purchased a farm, where he raised farm animals, his daughter said.

Bryant said her dad loved fishing and playing games with his children and grandchildren, including basketball and horseshoes.

Although he grew up during segregation, Foster, a black man, didn’t let the issue bother him and focused on work and providing for his family, his daughter said. “He’d seen it, but he didn’t let it take over his life and that’s the way he taught us.”

Foster was a deacon at Clovis’ Bethlehem Baptist Church and Pattison Chapel CME Church, where his father-in-law, the Rev. J.P. Moore, had served as pastor. Bryant said he would take care of families and children so they could get back on their feet.

“Their parents wouldn’t have a job and would come and ask could (their children) stay there until they were able to take care of them,” Bryant said.

After his stroke, Foster had trouble walking and moved to the Farwell Convalescent Center.

“Otis would always give you a smile or the girls their high-fives,” said Debbie Galvan, the center’s activities assistant.

Galvan remembered Foster as a Dallas Cowboys and Elvis fan who loved to dance before he was wheelchair-bound.

Since her parents were wheelchair-bound and her mother lived with her, Bryant would take them to see each other often.

When doctors told Bryant in May that her dad wouldn’t live much longer, the family held a reunion in his honor and family and friends spoke about the impact he’d had on their lives.

“He was just so happy. He was laughing. You wouldn’t even thought he was sick,” Bryant said.

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
rick_white@link.freedom.com