In Memoriam

Portrait of Herbert Foster.

(Martha’s Vineyard Times Photo/ Gabrielle Mannino)

Herbert L. Foster

A legacy of reform and kindness

Lifelong educator Herbert L. Foster, 93, GSE emeritus professor, died on Feb. 26 in his home in Edgartown, Mass., where he had moved with his late wife, Anita, in 1998.

A prolific writer and speaker, Foster was known internationally for his work in urban education focusing on teaching teachers about Black culture with the goal of improving their relationships and effectiveness with Black students, particularly Black males.

He laid out his plan for successfully educating Black males in his 1974 book, “Ribbin’, Jivin’, and Playin’ the Dozens: The Persistent Dilemma in Our Schools.” As he pointed out, “Students have to learn standard English, but you have to learn their language, too.”

A decorated World War II veteran, Foster received his EdD from Columbia Teacher College. After teaching in NYC for 17 years, he was hired by UB in 1970 for his expertise in urban education and joined the Learning and Instruction Department. He retired in 1995.

Among those commenting publicly about Foster in reaction to an article in the Vineyard Gazette following his death was his former colleague and friend of 30 years, Al Pautler, also a GSE professor emeritus. “Herb cared about students and was always ready to assist on doctoral committees,” Pautler noted. “Always a smile and never saw him down in spirit.”

Donations may be made to the Anita G. and Herbert L. Foster Student Scholarship Endowment Fund at the UB Foundation, which supports students pursuing a degree in literacy or special education.