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SORELY MISSED -- Every community has its doers -- people who step up and get things done. They volunteer their time and energy to make their place a better place.
When Bob Foster died May 3 at 71, Modesto lost one of its most selfless doers. Whether helping a friend or an organization, he gave and gave, his friends said.
From the United Way to the March of Dimes to videotaping every high school graduation in Modesto -- so that the parents and students could watch it on TV later -- he provided an example of someone who did all of the little things that benefit a community.
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"He was one of those people who didn't need the accolades," said Melanie Wyatt, director of Modesto's YES Company performing arts group. "He did it for the joy of giving."
"He was always behind the scenes," said John Cox, an insurance salesman who considered Foster one of his best friends. "He didn't like the notoriety. He would do anything for a friend, regardless of how much time it would take or what it would cost him."
Foster volunteered for anything that involved helping kids, including programs run by Doctors Medical Center Foundation, March of Dimes, The United Way, Red Ribbon Week, the Special Olympics, Stanislaus County Office of Education, the Yes Company -- you name it.
He, Cox and CHP officer John Brugger, now retired, started the local Sober Grad program. Foster judged the Miss Teen Modesto competition, helped out with the Modesto A's and Nuts, and assisted in the Keep Baby Safe car seat program.
A photographer and videographer, Foster worked for Post-Newsweek Cable and was instrumental in broadcasting Modesto City Council meetings and other shows on the community access channel.
He, along with Modesto Junior College instruction Wes Page, produced the United Way's "People Helping People" program for about eight years on the local access channel.
"He was down in the trenches doing the work," said Linda Avedon, the former Stanislaus United Way chief, who now lives in Texas. "A lot of people didn't realize the work he was doing. And when it came to public access TV, whatever was there was because of Bob."
A recovering alcoholic, Foster used his experiences to help others by serving on anti-substance abuse programs, Cox said.
His bottom line was helping, and no one did it better.
"I don't care who you are -- your best friend wouldn't do what Bob would do for you," Cox said.
Which means Stanislaus County lost a great friend and one of its most energetic doers.
"I miss him terribly already and I will miss him the rest of my life," Cox said.
RESTORATION -- For their class gift to the school, Modesto High seniors funded the restoration of a crescent-shaped concrete bench that has been on the H Street campus at least since 1921 and perhaps even longer.
Brett Rodriguez, the school's student and community activities administrator, said a photo of the bench first appeared in the school's yearbook, "The Sycamore," in 1921 -- three years after the campus opened.
"But it could go back to the teens (1910-1919)," he said. "We've had people say it was an original remnant from the other campus."
Modesto's first high school classes began in 1883, and the first Modesto High building opened in 1901. That building, at 13th and L streets, later became Roosevelt Junior High when the new Modesto High campus opened.
No matter, the bench fell into disrepair over the years.
"It was an eyesore," Rodriguez said.
The senior class spent more than $8,500 to restore the bench's concrete and to build a new 14-by-14-foot pad that includes the Modesto High logo with the school's red and black colors.
Julio Hallack, a local specialty concrete contractor, donated materials and know-how, saving the seniors about $20,000.
"Now, it's a thing of beauty," Rodriguez said.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2383.