Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Earnest Foster

He loved the outdoors, so that's where Earnest Foster's legacy is

ST. PETERSBURG — On one blazing hot day in May, Earnest Foster hopped on his bicycle.

In eight hours, he rode 100 miles, making it around the southern tip of Pinellas County. A long day indeed, but a mere notch in his lifetime love affair with the outdoors.

"He loved the exercise, being out in the open countryside," said his wife, Betty Foster. "He wanted to be outside every day."

Mr. Foster was an only child born in West Virginia. He was athletic from the start, playing softball and quarterbacking his high school football team. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II and later worked in management at Union Carbide.

Sixty years ago, he married Mrs. Foster, whom he met at a hamburger restaurant. They raised seven children before retiring to St. Petersburg in 1985.

Mr. Foster served as president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club for several years, and he helped organize races, including the Spring Classic Ride in Manatee County and the Freedom Walk to raise funds for the St. Petersburg Deaf Service Center.

He was a born organizer. So when talk swirled of a trail that would give runners and cyclers a safe alternative to busy roads, Mr. Foster sprung to action. He became the first president of Pinellas Trails Inc., a community group developed to raise funds and awareness for the trail.

Through his people skills and sophisticated campaigning, he raised thousands and promoted the idea of using abandoned railroad corridors as bicycle trails. He became a regular presence at county meetings. He energized his friends to fight for the cause.

"It was real grass roots," said Scott Daniels, current president of Pinellas Trails. "We had a diverse group of people, from bankers to teachers to homemakers to business people. Earnie was the leader. "

The trail not only gave him a place to ride — it also gave him immense satisfaction.

"I've talked with people who say they are now getting back into walking because the trail is open, or said they plan to buy better bikes," Mr. Foster once told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's very gratifying."

He eventually retired his post with the group but stayed involved. He rode his bike constantly until heart problems forced him to stop about five years ago. Even then, he made sure to go outside every day, even just to sit on the beach.

Mr. Foster died Friday. He was 81.

Pinellas Trails members plan to dedicate a bench in his honor. It will be somewhere in St. Petersburg, somewhere in the fresh air.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or (727) 893-8857.


Earnest Foster

Born: March 14, 1927.

Died: Nov. 14, 2008.

Survivors: wife, Betty; seven children; 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren.

Services: 2 p.m. today at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, 7820 38th Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

He loved the outdoors, so that's where Earnest Foster's legacy is 11/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 21, 2008 7:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The rise and humiliating fall of Chris Cantwell, Charlottesville's star 'fascist'


    The white supremacists, nationalists and far-right trolls who starred in last weekend's violent Charlottesville, Virginia, rallies have suffered no lack of humiliation in the days since.

    White nationalist Chris Cantwell has had quite the week after being featured prominently in an HBO news program on the march in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. [Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post]
  2. MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive player behavior'


    Major League Baseball umpires wore white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

    Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn wears a wristband to protest "abusive player behavior" on umpires by players as Rayburn heads to his position to call the first inning of a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and and the Colorado Rockies late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Denver. [Associated Press]
  3. Tropical Storm Harvey could regroup but stay clear of Florida


    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop into severe weather.

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop, according to the National Hurricane Center. [National Hurricane Center]
  4. Fatal hit and run closes section of Nebraska Avenue


    TAMPA — Police are investigating a fatal hit and run crash early Sunday morning on Nebraska Avenue.

  5. Sunday Conversation: Roberto Torres talks immigration

    Human Interest


    Roberto Torres stands as one of the city's most impressive rising entrepreneurs. The owner of Blind Tiger Cafes, Black & Denim clothing company and CoWork Ybor has expanded his reach with locations at Tampa International Airport and The Morrison, a new mixed use development in the SoHo District. Torres, …

    Roberto Torres receives his American Dream award from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on Aug. 15.