Maxwell Evarts (Robin) Foster Jr.
Maxwell Evarts (Robin) Foster, Jr. 86, passed away early Monday morning, May 23, 2016. Born in Boston, he grew upinvestigating his natural surroundings with the soul of a scientist in the fields near Topsfield, Massachusetts, and the forests of northern New Hampshire.
He completed his undergraduate A.B. at Harvard College, then a J.D. from Harvard Law School, following in his family tradition of legal training. During a Fulbright year in Australia, he compared systems of constitutional law, and enjoyed hiking in the outback with an international group of friends. Upon his return to the U.S., he headed west to San Fransisco, where he practiced law, and then edited texts for California's Continuing Education of the Bar. His interest in how laws could be generated from grassroots movements led him to complete a doctorate in Sociology of Law through UC Berkeley. His doctoral thesis documented the passage of laws protecting San Fransisco Bay, stemming initially from citizen actions, leading also to formation of the continuing organization, Save the Bay.
While writing his thesis and completing academic requirements, he delved into the hitherto out-of-bounds realms of reiki, reflexology, shiatsu, and other movements on the New Age frontier. Robin's affinity for Human Potential groups drew him to Ashland, where he found significant guidance in the Reichian work of Sylvia Goodman. His continued involvement in civic issues, including Ashland's Citizen Action Committee, brought him to the Jackson County Democrats' annual Roosevelt-Kennedy dinner on May 18, 1980, the day Mt. St. Helens erupted, where he met his future wife, Colleen Curran. (This volatile beginning has sparked decades of jokes.)
Robin and Colleen worked together toward passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois. At the the unsatisfactory conclusion of that effort, they made the decision to marry, found a house that "hummed" in Ashland. To the new home each brought a piano, an Oxford English Dictionary, and few other furnishings. Before very long, the house was enlivened by the energetic presence of the couple's two beloved children, Nicholas and Lucy Claire, who have remained lights of Robin's life.
While raising their two children, the two incorporated a business, The Clearinghouse, providing writing and editing services to local clients. Among the most satisfying work for Robin was his writing for OSF's "Illuminations" in its early days.
Through his life, he loved time with his family and friends, classical music, travel, and 'witty banter.' Even while weathering significant health challenges over the last years of his life, Robin maintained his bright beaming smile, his love of reading and writing, and his adamantly asserted fondness for chocolate. He is survived by his wife, Colleen Curran of Ashland; his son, Nicholas Foster currently of Washington, DC; daughter, Lucy Claire Curran currently of San Fransisco; and many cherished cousins.
A memorial gathering is planned for Saturday, June 11, 2:30-5:30 p.m. at North Mountain Park Pavilion. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Ashland Schools Foundation, Chamber Music Concerts, SOU's Hannon Library, or the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy.