Foster — a cigar-chomping, UNC Tar Heel-loving bear of a man who was an award-winning staff photographer and videographer for the Observer for the better part of three decades — was found dead in his apartment off of Park Road in Charlotte on Monday afternoon. He was 52.
The youngest of three children, Foster was born to a father who was a shipping supervisor and car salesman and a mother who taught elementary school, raised in the tiny town of Henderson in Vance County just up U.S. 1 from Raleigh.
Foster enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1986, going on to work as a photographer for the university’s yearbook, Yackety Yack, and its student-run newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. He left in 1990 with those career-shaping experiences, as well as a degree in political science and — to put it mildly — a rabid devotion to Tar Heel sports teams.
The only three years of his life that he spent living outside of North Carolina were spent working at The Sun News in Myrtle Beach from 1990 to 1993. From there, he came to the Observer, starting in the Gastonia bureau, then shifting to the Rock Hill bureau shortly thereafter.
Quickly, he wound up in the mix as a sometime sports photographer and unsurprisingly, when the opportunities arose, he’d angle to shoot Carolina basketball games.