The Bobby G. Foster Memorial Scholarship will support Black BAC Students in Architecture
Bobby’s BAC Story
November 15, 2021
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“If you talk to anybody that knew my husband they will tell you, ‘My goodness did that man like to talk about the Boston Architectural College,’” says Maria Latimore of her late husband, Bobby G. Foster. “In social settings, he’d introduce himself and immediately it would morph into, ‘I went to the BAC because I always wanted to be an architect.’” She chuckles recalling how she’d often have to intercept these conversations just to get new acquaintances out of Bobby’s clutches. “He’d go on and on about the place.”
Bobby began studying architecture at the BAC in 1970 while working full time (and often overtime) at GE Aviation to support his family in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. He took a decades-long break and returned in his mid-sixties and completed all his course requirements with high grades, but never officially graduated. He pulled plenty of all-nighters building housing models at his heavily used home drafting table, but there simply weren’t enough hours in his day to write a thesis and meet internship requirements while holding down his job as a tool designer and raising his two children.
He passed away in 2020 without knowing that his wife Maria would create a namesake scholarship at the BAC to honor his legacy. In lieu of flowers, she asked friends and family to contribute to the fund and Maria personally made a generous multi-year commitment to establish this named scholarship at Bobby’s beloved Alma Mater. For the next five years, the $5,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to a Black student from the greater Boston community. “The BAC was a big part of Bobby’s life, and we had many conversations about it. I'm sad that we didn't decide to do this when he was alive. He would have been over the moon about this,” she shared.
Born into a big family in 1934, Bobby was known by “Fos” and grew up simply in Wellsville, Ohio. He was instinctively drawn to architecture even as a child and entertained his sisters and brothers by building forts from cardboard boxes. Adventurous by nature, as a teen he once swam five miles across the Ohio River on a dare. Maria explained, “Bobby’s hometown was steel country and he worked in the mills with the men from his family one summer in high school. He hated it and vowed that he would never do that dirty, awful work again, but it was really the only option for Black men in those days.”
In high school, Bobby was an extraordinary athlete and served as the model for a life-size bronze statue of a basketball player which remains in his hometown today. After graduating, he joined the military and saw the world first in the Air Force and ultimately the Navy. He completed a tour of duty in Spain, completely fluent in Spanish. “Bobby was just very well-rounded,” says Maria. “He was artistic, creative, and philosophical, just the whole nine yards.”
After serving, he received his draftsman’s license and learned to draft by hand, winning many awards along the way at GE Aviation where he was a tool designer of aircraft engines. He would eventually transition to AUTOCAD drafting software, but always preferred to work with his hands.
Maria first laid eyes on her future husband in the payroll office at GE Aviation in Lynn, when she was a college engineering intern one summer. The couple got married, bought a home, then had a daughter. Maria, a consultant in nonprofit project management, lights up when she speaks about Bobby as a father to both their daughter and an older son from a previous marriage. When it came to their daughter, “It was beautiful because he retired when she started 8th grade. I can’t even count the hours they spent together going places in the car.”
Bobby didn’t squander a moment of his retirement. He voraciously read biographies, played drums professionally, carved detailed portraits from fallen trees, and built complex conceptual sculptures from cardboard and glue. His office was splattered in latex paint, Jackson Pollack style as a result. Although he didn’t have the opportunity to finish his thesis, he never stopped talking about the BAC and learning about architecture.
The Bobby G. Foster Scholarship is intended to encourage other first generation Black college students from the Boston community to persevere and pursue a career in architecture—a field that has traditionally lacked inclusivity and diversity. “I just feel such a sense of gratitude to be able to contribute to somebody else’s path through this process. I want the scholarship to be meaningful,” Maria said.
November 15, 2021
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