Writing Clerical 02
Official Obituary of

Michael "Mike" A. Foster

December 28, 1946 ~ April 12, 2023 (age 76) 76 Years Old
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Michael "Mike" Foster Obituary

Michael A. “Mike” Foster, 76, of rural Metamora passed away on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria.  The son of Claude Swadley and Shirley Jane (Hopkins) Foster, he was born in Peoria on December 28, 1946.  He married Joanne Weslowski on June 14, 1969, in Milwaukee, WI.

He is survived by his wife, Jo; two daughters, Martha Hadley at home, and Megan Hope (Frank) Campbell of Germantown Hills; two granddaughters, Madeleine and Emma; his sister, Claudia (Bill) Kane of Maryland Heights, MO; nephew Jon (Leigh Ann) Kane of Wichita, KS; aunt Amy O’Neill of Peoria; and several cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents.

He received his early education at St. Bernard’s School and Spalding Institute, where he enjoyed writing scripts for pep rallies. He received a bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism in 1968 from Marquette University. Mike was a four-year participant in MU’s Honors Program; he received the William Randolph Hearst Foundation Award for feature writing in 1967. After teaching a year at Spalding Institute, he returned to Marquette to earn a master’s degree in English in 1971.

He was an educator, scholar, journalist, and musician.

Mike had a 34-year career at Illinois Central College, teaching English, journalism, and literature, retiring in 2005. He was advisor to the Harbinger, ICC’s student newspaper, reviving the journalism curriculum. He created a Literature of Fantasy and Imagination course and, in response to student requests, created a J.R.R. Tolkien, Special Studies course. He was instrumental in founding ICC’s Honors Program. In 2004, he taught a term at Christ Church University College in Canterbury, England. Mike received ICC’s Gallion Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1978-79.

Interest in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and J.M. Barrie gave him the opportunity for lifelong scholarly accomplishments and friendships. Since 1995 he was the North American Representative to the Tolkien Society. He also was active in the Mythopoeic Society and the American Chesterton Society. He delivered conference papers all over the United States and England.  Mike appeared on television in the United States and Canada, including ABC’s “World News Tonight” preceding the release of the first “Lord of the Rings” movie. He also was featured on radio in New Zealand on a program hosted by Bruce Hopkins, one of the actors in the films.

He received a Peoria Journal Star scholarship in 1964 and returned to the Journal Star on sabbatical in 1982. He was a charter member of the Illinois Community College Journalism Association. ICCJA’s top award is named The Mike Foster General Excellence Award in his honor.

Calling himself a sprinter, not a long-distance runner, he used his writing skills to produce hundreds of articles and reviews for a wide variety of publications, both scholarly and popular. He wrote short stories, including co-authoring “A Cub Fan’s Christmas Wish.” He also wrote and published travel articles, poetry, and satirical songs.

Mike’s encyclopedic knowledge of 1960s and 1970s rock and roll music served him well as a member of the local rock group A Fine Kettle of Fish, with their weekly practices referred to as “bowling night.”  Occasionally performing for weddings and benefits, they mostly played for their own enjoyment and parties for their friends. Playing rhythm guitar and knowing all the words to the songs, Mike was the mainstay through various permutations of members.

Mike served his church community at St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills as a musician at Masses. He was a member of the parish’s Men’s Club. He participated in Cursillo. He was a 4H leader and served on the Peoria ACLU Board of Directors.

Mike was also a fan of the Chicago Cubs and the Green Bay Packers.

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 am on Friday, April 21, 2023, at St. Mary of Lourdes Catholic Church in Germantown Hills.  Visitation will be held from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at Mason Funeral Home Germantown Hills Chapel.  Burial will be in St. Mary of Lourdes Catholic Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Relief Services, 228 West Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-3443 or online at https://support.crs.org/donate/memorial or the Snyder Village Resident in Need Fund, 1200 East Partridge Street, Metamora, IL 61548.

The family would like to thank the staff at Snyder Village Health Center in Metamora for their care over the past two years.  Online condolences at www.masonfuneralhomes.com.

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April 20, 2023

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Mason Funeral Home Germantown Hills Chapel
375 Old Germantown Road
Germantown Hills, IL 61548

Funeral Mass
April 21, 2023

10:00 AM
St. Mary of Lourdes Catholic Church
424 Lourdes Church Road
Metamora, IL 61548


Snyder Village Residents in Need Fund
1200 East Partridge Street, Metamora IL 61548

Catholic Relief Services
228 West Lexington Street, Baltimore MD 21201-3443
Web: https://support.crs.org/donate/memorial


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