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updated: 2/22/2011 6:29 PM

Veteran Elk Grove park commissioner dies at 79

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Veteran Elk Grove Park District Commissioner Ronald A. Foster Sr., 79, died at his home this weekend of natural causes.

The 50-year Elk Grove Village resident was first elected to the park board in April 1995. He served as commissioner for 16 years, was its past president and was the board's secretary at the time of his death.

Foster was involved in every major park district project during his tenure, including the renovation of Rainbow Falls Waterpark, renovation of the golf course and the building of a new maintenance facility and new athletic fields, said Tom Cook, park board president.

"He's going to be missed," said Cook, who served alongside Foster for the last 12 years. "He brought good balance to the board. He has been like a father figure. He's a strong leader, tough, but he is also very fair and generous. He was very involved in the community."

Foster was a passionate advocate of the Sheila Ray Adult Center, working closely with its active adult participants during the eight years he served on its committee, Cook said.

"(It) was his baby," he said.

An Army veteran of the Korean War, Foster was a district superintendent of installation and maintenance for the Illinois Bell Telephone Company from 1962 until his retirement in 1994.

He joined the Elk Grove Lions Club in 1968, where he served as president and later was the club's district governor from 1982 to 1983. He received the Melvin Jones Fellow award -- the Lions Club's highest honor.

Foster also served as president and commissioner for the Elk Grove Little League and was an assistant coach for the Elk Grove hockey team.

"He just kept very busy and enjoyed doing many things in the village ... helping residents in the community in every way he can," said Foster's wife of 56 years, Angela. "He played baseball until he was 70 years old."

Besides his wife, Foster is survived by four children: John L. Foster of St. Charles; Ronald A. Foster II of Roselle; William R. Foster of Trevor, Wis.; and Susan L. Foster of Largo, Florida.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Grove Memorial Chapel, 1199 S. Arlington Heights Road, Elk Grove Village. Prayers with military honors will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the chapel followed by a 11 a.m. Mass at Queen of the Rosary Parish, 680 Elk Grove Boulevard.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lions Club Foundation or UW Hospital Transplant Program at

Foster had two years remaining on his park board term. The board will likely appoint a replacement in the coming weeks, Cook said.