Mike Foster, Louisiana's 53rd governor, has died at the age of 90.
Jeremy Alford of Louisiana Politics Weekly shared an announcement from the family via Twitter.
NEWS: After spending the week in hospice, former Gov. Mike Foster passed away earlier today. His wife, Alice, said, “Our family and I are saddened to announce that after 90 remarkable years, my dear husband has passed. Our family will miss him dearly.” #lalege #lagov— Jeremy Alford (@LaPoliticsNow) October 4, 2020
Another statement from the family, shared via Alford, said “The family also wishes to extend their gratitude for the many prayers and well wishes they've received and are requesting privacy at this time. Further details regarding arrangements will be provided in the coming days."
Foster was a state senator before running for governor in 1996. He was re-elected four years later without a run-off.
State Senator Bret Allian now holds the seat Foster held when he first got into politics.
Allain says he ran for the position because Foster encouraged him and considers the late governor a role model.
"The one thing you could say about Mike Foster is when he gave you his word, when he told you that he would do something or he wouldn't do something, you could take it the bank," shared Allain. "And that's something that's really missing."
In 2001, Foster appointed state police's first African American superintendent, Terry Landry.
"The unique thing about this appointment was that Governor Foster was in his second term. He had no political advantage appointing me," said Landry. "He appointed me because he thought I was the best person for the job. It's a historical event. It's historical in state police's history. It's a historical event in Louisiana's history."
Landry says Foster elevated Louisiana State Police to one of the best in the country, yet he never sought any accolades.
"Governor Foster really cared about people, and he loved his state," said Landry. "Again, when he gave you a job, he never told you how to do the job, he never micromanaged it. There was one thing he told me when he gave me this job: 'Terry, do the right thing.' And that was his marching orders."
The governor's colleagues say Foster leaves behind a legacy of compassion.
"He loved his family, he loved his community, and he loved the state," said Landry. "So, I think that his legacy is going to be one of a compassionate, firm, but compassionate individual, and I think all those people who have had one-on-one experiences with him can attest to the same thing that I'm attesting to today."
Foster has lived almost his entire life in Franklin. He was the grandson of Murphy J. Foster Sr., who was governor of Louisiana from 1892 to 1900. To read a biography about Foster, click here
Here's Gov. John Bel Edwards' statement:
A veteran, a businessman and a sportsman, Gov. Mike Foster was a true Louisianan who served his country, his state and his community with honor throughout his life. As governor, one of his most lasting legacies is in education, especially his support for the creation of the TOPS program, which, more than 20 years later, still helps thousands of Louisiana students attend colleges and universities and achieve their goals. Gov. Foster recognized that there is no greater gift to our state than a bright future for its young people and that not everyone has to travel the same path to achieve a quality education. That’s why he created the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
Gov. Foster also worked hard to protect and restore Louisiana’s coastline and moved to dedicate federal funding to this purpose, so that future Louisianans could enjoy the Sportsman’s Paradise he so loved.
"Donna and I are praying for Gov. Foster’s family, and especially his wife Alice, during this difficult time and hope the people of our state will join their prayers to ours. I have ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-staff in honor of his memory.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also released a statement on Foster's passing:
It is with great sadness that I express my condolences to Mrs. Alice, Murphy, and Ramelle. Governor Foster was a wonderful family man, dedicated public servant, and loyal friend. Mike valiantly served our Nation in the Air Force and honorably led our State as a Senator and as the Governor. While Governor Foster may be remembered by most as a conservative manager who steered Louisiana into a prosperous period, I will always cherish Mike as a trusted confidant whose guidance was invaluable. His honorable legacy will live forever; and I hope the citizens of Louisiana will join Sharon and me in prayer for the entire Foster family.
Last week, Alford tweeted that Foster had entered hospice care, and that the family has issued thanks for those who are praying for Foster.
Here's the tweet:
BREAKING: Sad news out of St. Mary, where Mike Foster, our 53rd governor, has entered hospice care. Family members wish to "extend their continued gratitude for the prayers & well wishes." I'll have more in tomorrow's Tracker. Free signup: https://t.co/u2FJekFPyL #lalege #lagov— Jeremy Alford (@LaPoliticsNow) September 28, 2020