June 7, 2013
Lynne Foster of Hatteras is Dare County’s Citizen of the Year
BY CATHERINE KOZAK
Technically, Lynne Foster is a “come-here” on Hatteras Island, a term meant to distinguish the natives from the interlopers.
between her genuine warmth and determined drive to help her adopted
community, she has earned well-deserved “belongs-here” status.
was awarded Outstanding Citizen of the Year at Dare County’s 38th
annual Dare Day celebration this month for her extraordinary dedication
to the county through numerous volunteer efforts.
The dint of
her personality was evident in no time after she moved to Hatteras in
1997 with her husband Ernie Foster, the captain of the Albatross fleet
and son of native waterman Ernal Foster.
“I was gone at
school,” Dennis Robinson, the president of the Hatteras Village Civic
Association, recalled about her arrival. “When I got back from school,
she was pretty much involved in everything.
“She hit the ground running.”
Fosters married in 1992 and lived for five years in Manteo, where Ernie
Foster worked as a guidance counselor for Dare County Schools and
chartered vessels out of Hatteras on the side. After Ernal Foster
died, the couple decided to live full-time in Hatteras.
moving to Dare County, Lynne Foster has served on the boards of The
Elizabethan Gardens, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, the Dare
County Library, and the Eastern Albemarle Regional Library. She was a
member of advisory committees for the North Carolina Coastal Federation
and North Carolina Sea Grant.
She also served as the president
of the Dare County Master Gardeners, co-edited “A Hatteras Anthology:
Voices of Hatteras Island Women,” and writes the food column for the
Island Free Press.
But her most lasting achievement might be
her role in helping to launch the Day at the Docks after Hurricane
Isabel in 2003, and in May, the first Hatteras Storytelling Festival.
“She’s a phenomenal leader,” Robinson said. “She’s just organized and thorough. She’s awesome.”
the surface, Lynne Foster, 65, is one of the most unlikely examples of
a woman who would end up ensconced on a relatively isolated island,
happily married to a fisherman.
Until 1990, she had lived in
London for 10 years, operating a business designing town gardens, and
later working for Calvin Klein Cosmetics marketing perfume in the
United Kingdom. Before that, she worked as a flight attendant,
traveling to every continent except Antarctica. For years, part
of her job included living in and working flights that carried pilgrims
to and from Mecca, out of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Ghana and Nigeria.
But towards the end of her years in London, the stress of the
job and her then-failing marriage left her disillusioned about life in
the fast lane, Foster said in an interview.
Hatteras would soon become a life-changing revelation.
a trip back home in 1990 for her brother’s wedding, Foster recalled,
friends invited her to their Richmond home, and once there, lured her
to Hatteras for some respite.
“We got there –I was exhausted,” she said. “They woke me up in the middle of the night and said, ‘We’re going fishing.’”
reluctantly agreed, and Ernie Foster was the captain. But even
more than his charms, she recalled her wonder at the ocean and the Gulf
“I was never an outdoors girl,” she said, adding that
she grew up in Pennsylvania. “There is something magical about this
At one point, right whales were so close to the
vessel, The Albatross III, that she could feel their breath and their
spray on her feet. The mate pulled a bucket of water out of the crystal
blue waters of the Gulf Stream, and it was teeming with sea life.
“I was stunned,” she said. “I was fascinated.”
Foster, then separated from her husband, decided to return to the
United States, and moved to Florida, where by then her family was
living. Soon she took a trip to the Outer Banks, and she rented a
house in Waves. Within a week, she ran into Ernie, who offered to show
By 1992, they were married – to the amazement of everyone who knew her before.
was a complete turn around from everything I have known,” Foster said.
“But everyone likes Ernie, and they knew how frustrated I was.”
Her outlook on life has changed dramatically.
someone who was kind of afraid of animals, living here has made me a
lot closer to nature,” she said. “I’m much more aware of weather.”
wavy, stylishly-coiffed hair, Foster carries herself with confident
grace and dresses sharply, whether on a boat or at a board meeting. A
feminist from a large family –she’s the oldest of six children -- she
likes to banter about politics. Witty and worldly, she is an excellent
conversationalist and party host. At the same time, she babies her dog,
loves cooking and is keenly devoted to her husband.
time she moved to Hatteras, Foster said, she always felt welcomed. Part
of the reason, to be sure, was that she is married to Ernie. But she
also thinks it helped that she had established friendships earlier
during a summer job at now-closed Browning Artworks in Frisco.
attributes her desire to be involved in the community to the example
set by her parents, who volunteered at a soup kitchen for many years.
“Anytime someone would visit, we would all go in to help,” she said.
all her time serving on boards and advisory panels, she said she found
her involvement with the Coastal Federation and Sea Grant most
rewarding because of their importance to protection of the coastal
heritage and environment.
She is also proud of her
work organizing Day at the Docks, born of her realization that the
fishing heritage of the island needed to be not only protected, but
recognized and celebrated.
Robinson said the event, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this September, has become a huge success.
took it from a concept and made it happen,” he said. “It’s like a
homecoming for Hatteras village. I think it’s local people’s favorite
Foster said that health problems have forced her to
pull back from all her community involvement, although she is still
doing work behind the scenes.
And she said the only thing she
misses about her old life is the access to theater and opera
performances. Everything else is pretty much available via FedEx and
She said she is grateful for being named Citizen of the Year, but she said there are many others on the island just as worthy.
think the best thing for me is the people,” Foster said about her life
on Hatteras Island. “You don’t have the same kind of support and
connections . . . I’ve never had that anywhere else, other than
with my immediate family. It’s a very, very tight community.”
is the second consecutive year that the county’s outstanding citizen
and been a woman and from Hatteras Island. Last year, the honors
went to Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy of Rodanthe, a journalist and
indefatigable community volunteer.
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