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F. Leroy Foster

Franklin Leroy Foster ’25, a retired MIT professor who directed the MIT Division of Industrial Cooperation and was involved in MIT’s Alumni Association, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 99.

As assistant director and later director of the DIC from World War II on, Foster was deeply involved in defining MIT’s relationship with the U.S. government. The DIC defense contracts comprised about $200,000 in 1939, and by the end of WWII the DIC oversaw over 150 sensitive research projects worth $40 million. Foster also served as a member of the War Production Board, on the Research Laboratories Industry Advisory Committee.

In his involvement with and dedication to the MIT community, Foster was what many students today would call a MIT “lifer.” After receiving the SB in mining engineering, Foster accepted an assistant position in the Department of Mining and Metallurgy. He received the SM in 1930, working as an assistant professor from 1931 until the department ceased to exist in 1940. In 1939 Foster received the PhD and began his assistant directorship of the DIC, rising to director by 1955.

Foster became the director of the Division of Sponsored Research a year after its formation in 1955, as the new division absorbed the functions of the DIC.

Foster active after retirement

Although Foster retired in 1968, he remained involved in MIT affairs. He served as director of the Lowell Institute School, which offered evening classes at MIT.

Committed to the Alumni Association, Foster received its highest recognition, the Bronze Beaver, in 1959. In 1976 he co-founded the Cape Cod, Mass. chapter of the MIT Alumni Association, when he and his late wife Evelyn Taylor moved to Chatham, Mass.

Foster’s sons also attended MIT. Elder son Richard S. Foster ’54 died in 1995, while Alden T. Foster ’62 works as a ski instructor in Colorado.

He is also survived by sister Mildred L. Foster, four grandsons, and seven great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Foster will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Chatham at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Donations in Foster’s memory should be made to the First United Methodist Church, 16 Cross St., Chatham, Mass. 02633.