We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
‘Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic
Hark now, hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic ~ Van Morrison
Bob Foster’s life voyage began on July 2, 1936. The first son of Robert C. Foster, Jr. and wife Dorothy Reed Dolliver, he grew up in Newtonville, Massachusetts. At two weeks old, he arrived on Ocean Point, Maine, where his mother’s parents were among the initial summer “rusticators” of the 1890s. Each summer he would sail the coastal waters of Boothbay, honing his love of the sea.
Enrolled at Bowdoin College in 1954, he left school prematurely and joined the U.S. Navy. Serving as a naval aviator, he was deployed to the island of Malta off the Italian coast and, while there, was badly injured as a passenger on an off-duty flight, cutting short his flying career. Ultimately, he completed his studies at Bowdoin in 1994.
Bob was one of the original so-called “Mad Men.” During the Madison Avenue phase of his life, he was an advertising executive representing several first-string magazines of the 1960s and 70s: LIFE, TIME, and Sports Illustrated. This led CBS-TV, the burgeoning new media star then known as the “Tiffany of networks,” to lure him on staff. While there, he navigated the network into the enviable cultural niche that magazines occupied at the time.
Bob was always about great adventures, enjoying many ocean passages, islands, people, cultures, and travels. Between vessel refits, he studied art and painting in Rome and Paris. Always the raconteur, he wrote two books: “Ad Man: True Stories from the Golden Age of Advertising,” and “Cadet,” a book about his adventures as a Navy pilot. Before stepping back from sales, he served as marketing director for the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard where he brought in significant restoration projects including the spectacular 1929 Belle Aventure designed by William Fife and built in Scotland, and the replica ship Bounty from the Marlon Brando movie “Mutiny on
the Bounty,” which later was tragically lost at sea during Hurricane Sandy.
In 1996, Bob settled full-time in East Boothbay, Maine, at his beloved Grimes Cove Farm. By 2018, the nor’easterly winds became too fierce and he relocated to Tuscon, Arizona. On the full moon of December 30, 2020, with forty-eight years of sobriety and eighty-four years sailing “full and by,” Bob raised sail one last time and said farewell.
Bob is survived by Janet Pearce Foster, his wife of thirty-two years; his four children, Robert Chapman Foster IV of San Francisco, California, Jonathan Hartwell Foster of Tiverton, Rhode Island, Abigail Foster Howard of Watertown, Massachusetts, and Priscilla Foster Pritham of Bozeman, Montana; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
His first wife, Susan Anne Hartwell Foster Gunn Cutter, and his brother, William Reed Foster, predeceased him.
If you wish to honor Bob’s memory, simply look up and live.