Mr. and Mrs. Mel Foster, Jr. Charitable Fund

 Mr. and Mrs. Mel Foster, Jr. Charitable Fund

How Mel and Edna Met

Mel Foster Sr. was born in Columbus Junction, IA and grew up in the west end of Davenport. Edna's family, the Barr's, came from Pennsylvania when Iowa became a state in 1846. They raised shorthorn cattle on farms, which they homesteaded from Davenport, north to Eldridge. Edna went to school at Miss Ida's and the Immaculate Conception Academy, where she took art classes. The two met through a mutual friend and dated at Central Park (now called Vander Veer Park), while attending free concerts in the park and ice cream socials.

How it all Started

Mel had only an eighth grade education due to his families need for financial help. He worked many different jobs over the years creating positive working relationships with community-minded families who became his mentors and encouraged him to start his own real estate business and the rest is history.

Mel Foster Co. was founded in 1921 when, at the age of 21, Mel Foster, Sr. opened a one-man, one-room real estate operation. By 1936 there were offices in Moline, Rock Island and Davenport, and a full service insurance division. And today the Mel Foster Company is the 80th largest real estate firm in the U.S. thanks to a large and hard-working staff of employees.

The company successfully negotiated major industrial site purchases in the Quad Cities. At the same time, the company developed subdivisions, built houses, and advocated for annexation, becoming a key ingredient in the physical and economic development of the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.

Their Hobbies

Mel had many hobbies including commemorative coin collecting, fishing, hunting, and gardening. His roses and rock gardens were a sight to see. He was a longtime board member of the Davenport Bank, and Iowa-Illinois Gas and Electric as well as a member of the Friends of St. Ambrose and the Board of Realtors.

Edna volunteered at the USO, and helped during the war effort in many ways, on the YMCA Board of Directors for 15 years, Girl Scout Council, and was an active member of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Main Street in Davenport, IA. Together the Foster's enjoyed traveling, playing cards, golf and gardening.

Stepping Stones or Stumbling Blocks

Both Mel and Edna modeled for their children to give back to the community that had blessed their family. Mel was known to say, "When life gives you ups and downs, you can make stepping-stones or stumbling blocks." Mel and Edna loved to see the benefits of their giving in the people it touched in the community. With an endowed campership fund to benefit the youth at the YMCA and those in need at Friendly House and Vera French, they will keep giving forever.

"Mary and I have been interested in the issue of hunger in the Quad Cities for many, many years. It is great to be able to have an impact."

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Did You Know?

The Community Foundation made its first grant from the Community Impact Endowment in 1967. That grant, of $2,000, was funded by an estate gift from Bea Conrad.
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