FOSTER – William Calhoun, died on December 3, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 92. A devoted and beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, and friend, he was widely admired by those who knew him.
Bill, as he was called by family, friends, and business associates (among other affectionate nicknames), was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to his two loving parents, he had a brother seven years his senior to whom he looked up and a sister one year younger on whom he doted. During his formative years he also spent time with extended family who lived in other parts of the state. In Richmond he attended John B. Carey Elementary School, Binford Junior High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School (where he graduated a year early, an accomplishment of which he was proud). After high school, he went on to obtain a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
At the onset of the Korean War just as he was completing his college degree, Bill was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served a two-year term and was honorably discharged. Bill recalled this experience – from pre-deployment training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina (BCT) and Fort Riley in Kansas (Military Intelligence), to a year-long assignment as an aerial photo interpreter at Kimpo Airbase in Korea – as one that broadened his outlook and appreciation of people from other backgrounds and set him on paths he might not otherwise have taken.
Following his discharge from the Army and a brief stint at the University of Richmond for post-graduate studies, Bill accepted a position with a Fortune 500 chemicals company, which led to an assignment in St. Louis, Missouri and a new set of friends and experiences. It was during this time – which he came to view as the pivotal turning point in his life – that he met and married his heart’s match and wife of 65 years, Angela Coleman Foster, a native of Minnesota. (Over the years, when Bill would speak of or write about various aspects and times of his life, including events that were momentous and people who were important influences, his stories invariably fell into two camps: all that came before Angela, and all that happened with Angela.)
Bill’s professional career included lengthy tenures with two more Fortune 500 companies in the chemicals industry – Mobay Chemical Company (a joint venture of Monsanto Chemical and Bayer Germany) and Cabot Corporation – primarily in national and international sales and marketing. His career at Cabot also included an assignment as Managing Director Cabot GmbH in Germany, requiring Bill and his family to relocate to Frankfurt for two years, which proved to be a horizons-expanding experience for all.
The nature of Bill’s work, particularly international assignments, afforded him and his family an opportunity for some exceptional travel adventures. Following his retirement, Bill and Angela continued to satisfy their wanderlust and desire to immerse themselves in new cultures, ideas, and natural landscapes by visiting places as far flung and diverse as Southeast Asia, Turkey and the Greek Isles, Egypt, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks, Mexico, and the Dordogne in France, among many other locales. When traveling (or pursuing daily activities at home), Bill had an uncanny knack for correctly predicting chance encounters with people he had known at other times/places in his life, and likewise the appearance of rainbows.
Apart from travels in his later years, Bill nurtured his ability to understand the world and ‘see with new eyes’ by engaging in studies ranging from religions and literature of all kinds, to significant historical eras and events, to visual art and classical and popular music. He also devoted himself to tracing and recording his family’s Scottish ancestry (on this mother’s side), which he was able to track back to the 12th century, an effort in which he took pleasure and pride and enjoyed sharing his findings with members of his extended family. The motto for the Scottish clan Colquhoun of which he was a part – ‘Si Je Puis,’ meaning ‘If I can’ – was also an anthem of which he was proud and lived his life by.
In his personal life and all his professional roles, Bill had a natural ability to relate to others and put them at ease. He was a loyal friend, and some of his closest friendships were with people he had known since boyhood. He was generous in sharing his expertise and offering support to colleagues or friends when asked or needed, and in situations where he could foster a better outcome for a group or community, and was a valued mentor and trusted confidante to many.
In addition to his dearly beloved wife Angela, Bill is survived by three adoring daughters, Katherine Coleman Foster, Ellen Foster Ferrand, and Sally Foster Walshe; sons-in-law Frederick Owen Ferrand and Brian G. Walshe; grandchildren Jennifer Louise Ferrand and William Calhoun Ferrand; and nieces Susan Foster Stanley and Eileen Foster Beane and their families.
William’s ashes are interred at the Columbarium and Memorial Gardens at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia.