Court information Opinions ---Recent postings Local rules File documents
All articles LLA news Members in the news Awards and recognition Consumer information
Member page Continuing Legal Education Calendar Committees
Legal Information & Assistance LLA Foundation/Grant requests Law Day Mock trial competition
History page Historical Sketches of the Bench and Bar Member memorials
Online version Advertising rates About
Memorials
LLA news

IN MEMORY OF RODGERS KIRK FOSTER, ESQ.

C. P. Lycoming County, 139 September Term, 1950. In the matter of the death of Rodgers Kirk Foster, Esquire, a member of the Bar of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

REPORT OF COMMITTEE

To the Honorable Judges of Said Court:

It is with profound regret and deep sorrow that the committee appointed by your Honorable Court for that purpose makes formal announcement of the death of Rodgers Kirk Foster, Esq.

Mr. Foster was born March 8, 1866, in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Rev. Milton K. Foster and Martha Rodgers Foster. His father was a Methodist minister, and both his father and mother were people of substance and were held in exceptionally high regard throughout central and southern Pennsylvania. He had one brother, Dr. M. H. Foster, who survives him, and a sister, Mary L. Foster, who predeceased him.

Mr. Foster attended Bucknell and Dickinson College, where he was awarded an AB Decree in 1886, and an MA Degree in 1887. His association with the legal profession started in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, where he was official court reporter and where he studied law in the office of George Orlady, who became the first President Judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania when it was organized. Mr. Foster was admitted to the Bar in Huntingdon County on October 9, 1888, and practiced there for a short time. He then moved to Lock Haven in Clinton County, where he was admitted to the Bar on January 3, 1898, as an associate in the office of T. C. Hipple, the father of Honorable Henry Hipple, now the President Judge of the Twenty-fifth Judicial District. While in this association he became acquainted with H. C. and S. T. McCormick, and he moved to Williamsport to take a position in their office, and was admitted to the Bar of your Honorable Court on December 23, 1899. Since that time, with the exception of several short periods of private practice, he has been associated with that firm and its successors.

Although for many years he had stated it to be his intention to retire at the age of eighty, when he reached that age several years ago, he felt vigorous and disinclined to do so, and as a consequence remained in active practice, attending a meeting of his firm and conducting a divorce hearing on Monday morning of the week in which he died.

Mr. Foster was held in great professional esteem. He served a year as President of the Lycoming Law Association, and for many years and repeatedly had served on various committees of that organization, particularly on the Admissions Committee and on the Committee on the revision of the various sets of rules of the several Courts of this County.

Mr. Foster was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Dickinson Junior College and remained on the Board of Lycoming College until the day of his death. He was always active in the affairs of the College, was a member of its Finance Committee, and in latter years took a major part in directing its legal relationships.

Mr. Foster’s professional life was characterized by a systematic and aggressive intellectual approach to legal problems. He had a mind which inquired into all of the ramifications of any subject in which he became interested.

Although seldom engaged in the trial of a case, he had an intimate knowledge of court procedure, and any associate or junior was glad to have Mr. Foster at his side when engaged in the trial of a case. His mind was bent naturally toward the codification of any branch of the law with which he was occupied, and this tendency was so strongly developed that it led him to organize and record not only his daily work in a systematic and permanent way, but it led him into the examination, analysis and codification of entire subjects in which he was not at the moment involved in his daily practice. For instance, he had prepared, and was about to publish, a complete work on Pennsylvania Corporations, and would undoubtedly have done so had Eastman not published his work just prior to the time Mr. Foster completed the arrangements for his own publication. He kept an index, in digest form and by file number, of all of his briefs, and this constituted a permanent record on the briefed subjects in his desk, so that when any question was raised requiring research, it was his habit to start with his old brief and bring it to date. He religiously kept a commonplace book and referred to it constantly. He always kept an extra copy of any paper drawn by him for the first time. The extra copy was saved and periodically bound into a volume of forms, an index for which was kept current and up to date.

In the matter of real estate titles in the City of Williamsport, he made a book which started with the basic warrants covering the entire City, and then systematically, by maps and reference to the deed books and pages, he showed the break-down of all of the land in Williamsport and had a digest of the original conveyances from each of the older subdivisions, with the name of the grantee of the first conveyance of each lot from the plan. The page numbers in this work exceed seventeen hundred. Collaterally to this work, he kept a locality index by street andnumber, cross-referenced to the files, of every property in Williamsport the title to which he had searched.

This same attitude of systematic and aggressive analysis prevailed in his interests outside of the office. He wrote a book on Bridge, which he did not attempt to publish. He wrote a book on Chess, which he never intended to use as anything but a crystallization of his own chess experience, for his own enjoyment. He wrote an extensive two-volume treatise on Greek Mythology, which he continued to revise and polish even during the very late years of his life.

This intellectual aggressiveness of Mr. Foster was quite marked, in spite of a great personal modesty and conservatism. He was unassuming in demeanor, but uncompromising in debate. He was a humanitarian, with an aversion to hypocrisy, pomp and piosity. This often kept him from putting himself forward under conditions where what he knew he would be impelled to say might make him seem contentious. But these qualities only endeared him to those in daily contact with him, and they combined with a lively and discriminating sense of humor to make him the member of the Bar most readily approached by young and old alike. The first approach by a young man to Mr. Foster was an experience, and each subsequent contact was a pleasure.

Mr. Foster was a liberal Christian and applied the principles of that philosophy to all aspects of his professional and personal life, and in doing so achieved a remarkable measure of contentment. In no aspect of his life was this more apparent than in his marriage. No man who ever joked about the legal fiction of the unity of husband and wife better demonstrated the possible spiritual truth of the proposition. He had a long, happy married life with his wife, Alice, a wonderful woman who loved, respected, comforted and understood him; and never was a golden anniversary of a wedding celebrated with more glowing cordiality than was theirs. They both lived a full measure, but that his wife predeceased him lightened his last years because he knew that he would not be leaving her to face any problems without him.

Mr. Foster is survived by his two sons, Hugh B. Foster and Donald H. Foster, and by a grandson, John B. Foster, and by two great-grandsons.

And Now, Be It Resolved, that in the death of Rodgers Kirk Foster the Bar of this County has lost one of its leading and most beloved members;

And Be It Further Resolved, that in this their time of loss, his family has our sincere and heartfelt sympathy;

And Be It Still Further Resolved, that a copy of these Resolutions be spread upon the minutes of this Court as an evidence of the affection, love and esteem in which Rodgers Kirk Foster was held by the Bar of Lycoming County, and as a proper and fitting memorial to him;

And Be It Still Further Resolved, that a copy of these Resolutions, properly signed and endorsed, be given to his family.

S. DALE FURST, JR.

IRA F. SMITH

DON L. LARRABEE

WILLIAM E. SCHNEE

JOHN G. CANDOR

October 9, 1950