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Saturday, March 24, 2012


Ruth B. Foster is my good friend who worked with me at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area - when I was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. 

Ruth B. Foster was Black and very proud of her culture and more being from Beaumont, Texas.

I was accompanied to her service from San Francisco on March 23, 2013 - by my good friend - Bruce Girion who also happens to be from Beaumont, Texas. What a small world.

Ruth was born on August 7, 1939 and passed away on March 16, 2012 - a strong Black woman - who always had a smile on her face.

Deep inside her, there were the scars of trials and tribulations.

We all face these tribulations and trials - some in small measure but most in greater measure in this world we live.
There are some - who will never give us minorities equal opportunities. The forces of evil are there for us to confront and those that are spiritual and strong - can and will overcome.

I remember well; how we a small tight knit of African Americans - working for the National Park Service at the Golden Gate Recreation Area - formed the African American Association - the first Non-Profit to be formed within the National Park Services - nationwide by employees.

This Association gave us the ability to be at the table and organize many events to empower the Black employees and Ruth was part of this movement.

Today, the present Black employees have sold out - divided the African American Association is dead - why - because even though the torch was passed - those that are evil could not see the good that could come from this association.

Had the association been active - many Blacks would have represented the National Park Service at today memorial service for Ruth Foster - the first Black woman to be employed by Golden Gate National Recreational Area - (GGNRA). What a crying shame - only I was present - representing the minorities.

Richard Brown who worked as an electrician, Gary Gumms also an electrician, Larry Salbeck worked with Ruth Foster, Paul Merz too worked with Ruth Foster, Pat Crahan was a Facility Manager, her husband my good friend Mike Crahan and NPS employee LIUNA, Union President, Neil Wood a NPS retiree - an all White representation -  all retirees from the NPS were present to honor Mother Ruth Foster. And of course COL Bruce Girion my co-worker accompanied me to the celebration honoring her life.

Mention must be made that Nolan Wood who is Black attended the Wake the day before. Nolan worked hand in hand with Mother Ruth Foster.

Away back in 1975 when the National Park Service established its office at Upper Fort Mason - Ruth was hired as the first Black woman. Surrounded by mostly White men at that time - she fought her way until one day she was the head of the Janitorial Services and part of the Maintenance Division. After 30 years of service - Ruth retired from the National Park Service.

A mother of three daughters and two sons. 33 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and a host of other relatives, friends, and her church family - Ruth Foster had her work cut out - when when she worked for the National Park Service  (NPS) and in her community - after she retired.

Known as Mother Ruth B. Foster to her church - the accolades she received were many and heartfelt.

The testimony from her grandchildren mostly - touched the hearts of many that were present at the service held at Christ is the Answer Church of God in Christ, situated on 405 School Street, in Pittsburg - California.

In the thirty years Ruth Foster served the National Park Service she saw it all - surrounded by blatant nepotism of the worst order - she worked hard - and always with a smile on her face.

When some of us later came to join the National Park Service from various other organizations - and many of us from Sixth U.S. Army and Presidio of San Francisco - Ruth Foster could confide in us the trials and tribulations and feel at home. Joe Oliver from the Army and later working for the NPS, J.O Smith a high ranking officer from the U.S. Park Police - a few other who had the guts to stand up to discrimination and not pander - made the few Blacks who worked for the discriminating NPS - proud.

The paradox was the first Standard Operating Procedures to operate the Federal Lands - now the the National Park Service were written by the all Black - Buffalo Soldiers. Much before the National Park Service was formed in 1916.

Formed to preserve and protect - for years - just the opposite was done. When some of us who knew the history and could stand up - said something - we were threaten. A few of us trained in the Army stood our ground - and the feeble managers from the NPS - succumbed as cowards and learned their lesson for life.

The Whites then in the NPS - had a way to smile on your face and stab you in the back. We few trained to deal with situations could handle most anything with finesse - even as we deal with the monsters today in the year 2012.

My good friend who is White and served as the Union President - his name is Michael Crahan - was the first to tell me about the passing of Ruth B. Foster.

It hit be hard and busy as I am - I cancelled all my appointments on May 23, 2012 and set for Pittsburg meeting my good friend a full Colonel from the Marin Corps and now my business partner - Bruce Girion.

I affectionately - call him Colonel - and the Colonel may not have understood how deep this friendship with Ruth was. However witnessing the ceremony, the testimony, the full life on one great Black woman, Mother Ruth Foster was reveled in some small fashion. The little one heard - astounded the many present - and rightly so.

However all that changed quickly when I stood up to say a few words about Mother Ruth Foster, her service to the National Park Service, and what she meant to her many co-workers - some of whom were present all White and I the only person of color. I had to honor her and be strong. Tears swelled in my eyes but I had to put a strong stance - and face the world and speak the truth.

Life if for the living not the living dead.

Ruth was spiritual and that is what is takes to fight the daily demons, the greedy, those that are selfish, those that discriminate mostly because they do not want to give opportunities and do not believe in sharing.

Many say they are children of God - but daily in their lives they do not honor and respect - and instead of worshiping God - a worship a "god" - some mammon that entice them to greed, and disrespecting those that not the color of their skin.

Ruth Foster was one a kind - she loved to drive when she was free.

Drive to places that she knew some but dared to go to the distance - just for some quick adventure. She was free spirited. Always a smile on her face, that unique chuckle, and always some sound advice - a few words but poignant and to the point.

She was dedicated to her work - leaving her home in the wee hours of the morning a little after 3 am to be at work early before 5:30 am - to create the schedule and attend to the daily chores - linked with being in charge of janitorial services - within the NPS Maintenance Department.

All those that worked under Ruth Foster loved her.

After her retirement as often happens - most of us go our  own way - a few of us the bold ones - keep in touch - I have with Mike Crahan all these years. With a few others too - but as I said that is not the norm.

It pained my heart that not one other Black was present that worked with Ruth Foster at the NPS at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco.

More so because Ruth Foster she led the way. Of course those now in leadership at the Golden Gate Recreation Area - continuing the mentality of the old days -  are selfish, and use their job as some security and never, ever foster - a relationship and gratitude that only those with intelligence, fortitude, and compassion - left a blazing trail, a good trail - we preserved and protected - we, with all our heart adhered to the motto of the National Park Service - " preserve and protect".

When I heard the news of Mother Ruth Foster's demise - my heart was heavy.

I got a flash back of all the meetings we attended - where I had to defend workers who were discriminated against.

All the meetings with the Superintendent Brian O'Neill who passed away some time ago - over a year if I am not mistaken of a sudden heart attack.

The said plight of Millie Bristow and Darlene Williams - two other Black women - who were discriminated for no reason.

One good think - Brian always listened to me. I often told him that he was surrounded my some evil people - he listened to me - more I think because of my Jesuit training and aptitude to get things done - quickly and with excellence.

Armed with the Non-profit status - the African American Association - we could rent the Golden Gate Club for free - have our Black events - and on such occasions - most everyone attended our events.

Our decor was great, the food excellent, the speaker one of a kind - and it was always nice to have Ruth Foster as a committee member - smiling and whispering in my ear - that all was good.

A mother figure - we need a strong Black woman who always had a nice attitude, smiled, and supported us in all of our undertakings.

Today, Mother Ruth Foster you are in a better place and you can smile and touch us as you could never before.

Many spoke highly of you - and what touched the heart of this growing old man - were the heart felt sentiments from your grandchildren. That said it all. You influenced them - in a manner that - no other Mother did - that is why they called you Mother Ruth. That is why we love you.

If I had not attended this great event to honor you - I, Francisco Da Costa would have have felt a better man. I wanted to thank you for your friendship, your love, and most of all for your dedication in doing your work to the best of your ability.

You, Mother Ruth Foster worked hard for your community and the the church - all the various activities. Making sure you transported the many grandchildren to church to keep them from harms way. Transforming the church with others  from a store front to a Tabernacle that today - has revival and other meetings to nourish the souls of many.

I came, I saw, I was touched and now I can rest assure - the fond memories I have of you are etched on my mind - and I feel some deep peace - that could only come from a better place and I know - deep in my heart  - you will watch over us even as you supported so many - when you traveled through this short journey on Earth.

Rest In Peace - and may God in His infinite mercy - protect you and shower you with His blessings.

You are in a better place - and we are all better for having met you - during your sojourn on this Earth.

Here are some photographs of the final celebration: