Reverend Robert Ayton Foster, (Bob) BA, MA 6/7/1924-16/8/2020
Bob Foster was born in Auckland, the son of William and Alma Foster.
William was appointed principal of Napier Boys' High School and the family moved to Napier when Bob was 4. He attended Te Awa School, Napier Intermediate and Napier Boys' High School - and from there into the army.
Later he went on to Training College and study at Victoria University. He moved about various schools adding extramural study to finish his BA. These included Marlborough College, Feilding Agricultural College, Taumarunui, Wanganui Collegiate and Waipawa District High School. It was at Waipawa that Bob, a 'confirmed bachelor', met Jenny Wohlers. They were married in January 1961.
Bob was appointed as head of the English department at Avondale College, and completed his MA part-time. He proceeded to Gore High School as deputy principal in 1966. His love of history saw him write a centennial history of the high school.
He was appointed as principal at Central Hawke's Bay College in 1970.
Many pupils and fellow staff have high praise for Bob as a teacher of languages. He encouraged a love of learning amongst his pupils and was intent that the 3Rs were maintained during times of curriculum growth and change.
Growing up in a boarding school meant that much time was spent on sport and Bob grew up loving cricket and rugby. He passed on his passion as he coached these sports at his various schools and many have high praise for his coaching.
After 40 years' service in education, Bob Foster retired from Central Hawke's Bay College in 1982.
He enjoyed leading a happy and busy school. Bob thought that the chief joys of being a principal were the chances to be useful to people, and to create a school climate conducive to bringing out the best in everybody. His championing and of love of music was honoured by the college when the new music suite was named after him.
However, he did not retire completely. Instead he responded to promptings he could not ignore and in 1983 enrolled at Knox Theological College to train as a minister of the Presbyterian Church.
He was inducted at Knox Church, Ahuriri, in March 1984 and served in this semi-rural parish for the next seven years.
He is remembered as being kind, dedicated, interested in people and the deliverer of thoughtful and encouraging sermons. Bob took an active part in the work of the HB presbytery and gave support to other parishes. He became president of the Napier Technical Memorial Band.
At the same time Bob's interests found a home as a member of the Iona College Council. He served on the council for 23 years and as chairman 1991-95. His educational experience and management skills were highly valued as the college negotiated the process of state Integration in the late 1980s.
He was an enthusiastic and much-loved supporter of the Iona community.
Bob is survived by wife, Jenny, children, Mary, Bill and Vivienne, and granddaughters Jane, Helen and Grace.
The name Robert Ayton Foster remains among many people. 'A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.' (Proverbs 22:1)