EAST GREENWICH—A memorial will be held on Nov. 2 to remember and honor the life of long-time East Greenwich resident and former editor of The Pendulum, Jane Foster. Foster, who died last month at the age of 96, led a life of tireless service and was widely known throughout the community as a pillar of charity and wit. The Pendulum caught up with Jane’s eldest daughter, Anne Foster, to unpack just how one woman cemented such a legacy in the town.
“I was reminded as people were sending cards or emails, of others’ impressions of her, and things I hadn’t always thought about when I was younger,” Anne said. “Her commitment to service, her community, her church, The Pendulum, her family, all of it. She was tireless in doing all of those things and in making it look effortless.”
Indeed, the story of Jane Foster’s life reads like a manual for selfless service and community involvement. From her years volunteering for the East Greenwich Meals on Wheels to her being elected as the first woman president of the First Baptist Church in East Greenwich, Foster knew how to make an impact on the lives of those around her.
“She worked really hard at the things she cared about,” Anne said. “Family, church, community, The Pendulum and singing.”
That last item is sure to be one that resonates with the people who knew Jane the best. Somewhere between volunteering, editing, leading, she found the time to develop as a gifted vocalist and sang with the Choralettes, a New England-based trio, and also performed with the Gilbert and Sullivan group, the Savoyards.
It is through her legacy as an editor with The Pendulum, however, that most people will likely remember Jane’s work. She and her husband Bill co-owned the publication for 20 exciting years, from 1964-1984, during which the family team helped to cement the publication’s reputation as both a meaningful community news source and a popular place for aspiring journalists to hone their skills.
“All of the family worked at The Pendulum,” Anne said. “I was the editor from ‘72 to ‘73, and was the first of a series of editors right out of college. Then came a string of new grad editors, who gained their journalism experience there. And dad really appreciated having mom take on the responsibilities she did because it allowed him to focus on publishing, columns and advertising.”
That influence went far beyond the family, and innumerable journalists still remember Jane with fondness and gratitude.
“Having worked at the Pendulum from 1972 to 1982, I remember Jane Foster as a lovely woman,” said Joan Chadwell, now of Fleming Island, FL. “She surely gave back to the community in many ways.”
Mark Thompson, who served as a reporter for the Pendulum before going on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for his work with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, spoke highly of Jane and her husband in a statement for the memorial service to be held next month.
“As sure as Bill Foster was the heart of the Rhode Island Pendulum from 1964 to 1988, his bride Jane was its backbone. Running a small-town paper is a hardscrabble life, and I remember Mr. Foster telling me how he never could have done it without her,” Mark said. “It made for a splendid partnership — and a union that served East Greenwich well for a quarter century.”
“Jane and Bill represent a special era in East Greenwich. Before the internet, social media and a relentless barrage of information were assailing our senses, there was the newspaper (and, thankfully, there are still newspapers),” EG resident Laura Sullivan wrote. “In East Greenwich, the weekly publishing of the Rhode Island Pendulum was eagerly anticipated. From the nation’s bicentennial to our town’s tercentenary, to the bar scenes, to the police infighting, and so much more, The Pendulum provided a ‘still point’ in our turning world to deliver what was happening here in town, up close and personal.”
After the death of her husband in 2012, Jane moved to Florida for a time before finally making it across the nation to the Seattle area, where she lived near her children, who remember her for her thankless, unwavering dedication to making life better, however she could.
“She had these five kids who all needed feeding, and she was singing and making me dresses at 2 a.m.,” Anne said. “She was always going. Always going and never needing credit.”
The memorial for Jane Foster will be held on Nov. 2 at East Greenwich First Baptist Church.