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K-State Today

October 25, 2012

Giving the gift of education: Mother's passion for her alma mater benefits student scholarships, sorority

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

A desire to make a difference in young people's lives spurred a Kansas State University alumna to establish two scholarships and provide funds for her sorority at her alma mater. She also provided funds for students at a community college in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Before she died in November 2011, Terry Suzanne "Speedy" Foster, Milford, Mich., established a trust as a way to give back to three organizations that meant so much to her: Kansas State University, the Beta Upsilon chapter of Gamma Phi Beta at the university and Washtenaw Community College in Michigan.

"Part of the decision to start a trust was estate planning, but a larger part of it was a desire to give back to some institutions that touched her life very significantly," said Wade Foster, Terry Foster's son. "She recognized and she pushed my sister and I throughout our lives on the importance of education, so she felt like she should give back and help others in that area."

Terry Foster, formerly of Great Bend, and her husband, James "King" Foster, formerly of Sedan, met while attending Kansas State University. Both were involved in the Greek system -- Terry Foster was a member of Gamma Phi Beta and King Foster belonged to Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. It was how they met.

"Dad had a date with one of Mom's sorority sisters to a dance and this sister liked another fella," said Gwen Umbach, the Fosters' daughter. "She asked Dad if she could set him up with one of her sorority sisters so she could go with this other guy, and he said OK. The date was my Mom."

Terry Foster earned her nickname from her sorority sisters.

"Mom was never on time for anything," Wade Foster said. "So apparently someone would always be telling her, 'speed it up.' That's where the nicknames Speed or Speedy came from. And that carried through to the rest of her life -- not only her college friends, but many of the friends she made over the course of her life called her Speedy."

Terry Foster's older brother attended Kansas State University, as did King Foster's siblings, so the Foster family has a tradition of supporting the university.

"My parents were die-hard K-State fans," Umbach said. "We had Willie the Wildcat all over the house."

"Mom was a huge football fan," Wade Foster said. "She'd go to Manhattan at least once a year for a football game and followed them religiously -- in the good and the bad days of football. Dad was certainly a football fan, but I'd say Mom was much more passionate about Kansas State games."

Terry Foster designated the two K-State scholarships, called the Terry Suzanne "Speed" and James King Foster Scholarship, to be awarded to women in the College of Business Administration and the department of physics.

"Dad's degree was in physics and Mom's degree was in business administration, so that's the foundation behind why the scholarships are going to those departments," Wade Foster said.

"My hope is that these scholarships will encourage students that receive them and help them realize that there's something special about them," Umbach said. "I hope the students know that they are awarded these scholarships because they deserve them, they deserve to have that recognition and that they're special creations."

"I hope the scholarship makes the difference between an individual being able to attain a degree and not -- that the scholarship is a difference-maker for an individual and that that individual contributes in a positive way to society as a result of this education," Wade Foster said.

"Something that resonated with both my parents, that was very important to them, was that the relationship with people was absolutely the most important thing," Umbach said. "They were both very hard workers and dedicated with anything they took on and very much about education, but they always would put the person first."

Family members, friends or any other parties interested in making additional donations to the Terry Suzanne "Speed" and James King Foster scholarships in Business Administration and Physics are welcome and encouraged to make an online contribution at bit.ly/RVEW7C for the physics scholarship or bit.ly/TTZvkX for the business administration scholarship.