Robert Foster ’58

Produced from the original story written by Patrick Hickey

ROBERT FOSTER ’58

In 1926 the Congregation of Christian Brothers staffed Leo High School in the Archdiocese of Chicago.  From that year until 1991 the Christian Brothers of Ireland educated and molded the characters of many generations of young men from Chicago’s South Side.  Most of the young men were first or second generation Irish Americans, and many Leo graduates became influential leaders in American religious life, business affairs and public service.  Thomas A. Murphy (Leo ’33) became Chairman of the Board of General Motors.  Thomas Gerrity (Leo ’30) became a Four-Star General in the Air Force and was at one time Logistics Commander of the United Nations.  Robert Podesta (Leo ’30) was named Assistant Secretary of Commerce by President Nixon.  Leadership among Leo men continues through men like Andrew McKenna (Leo ’47), CEO of Schwarz Paper, Donald Flynn (Leo ’57), President of Flynn Enterprises and co-founder of Waste Management Co.  & Blockbuster Video, James Hallberg (Leo ’69), CEO of Insure One and William Koloseike, CEO of Bill Kay Chrysler and Chevrolet. 

Robert W. Foster (Leo ’58) represents a very special success story for Leo.  Bob Foster grew up only a few blocks from Leo and from his baptism was immersed in Leo’s traditions of success in the classroom, the athletic field, and in the community.  Leo was the school of winners.  Leo captured many Catholic League Championships in football and basketball in the 1930’s and 1940’s, as well as the National Catholic Championship in 1941.  Bob Foster continued in the winning traditions playing as a junior on the 1956 City Championship Football Team.

Upon graduation from Leo, Mr. Foster won a scholarship to Purdue University earning a Bachelor of Science on Social Studies.  With his degree and football experience, Bob Foster returned to Leo as a teacher and coach in 1962.  Later he was hired to coach at Little Flower High School to the immediate west of Leo, where he gave that school its first winning football season.  From there Bob Foster was hired away to Mount Carmel and later to St. Rita.  In 1971, Bob Foster returned to Leo and remains there to this day.

1956 All City Champs

In 1997, Robert W. Foster was appointed President and CEO of Leo High School by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

In 1991, Leo High School needed a strong leader with links to the school’s rich past and influential Alumni; that person was Bob Foster.  As the first lay Principal of Leo High School, Foster called upon a number of Leo men, many among the most powerful and influential corporate and civic board members in the Chicago area, to offer advice and support.  That support helped Foster eliminate a serious financial deficit at the school and to build confidence in Leo High
School that extended far beyond the Alumni.

The Alumni response was significant powerful Corporate Captains and Venture Capitalists helped line up significant support for the school.  The mission statement was matched by the activities in the school itself.  Discipline was tightened, but fairly meted out.  Mentoring became as important as pedagogy.  Student efforts were constantly reinforced by the message that they should expect to succeed.  The capital raised by Foster and the Leo Alumni was invested in student financial aid and the improvement of the physical plant, which had been neglected for many years.  The school is generated by pride.

Leo is not an ivory tower.  It is a sharp edged five-story place of educational business.  Students who want to succeed come to Leo.  Many have been turned away from Catholic High School with national reputations for excellence.  Freshmen score well below the 40th percentile of the national average on entrance exams; but eighty percent of those admitted to Leo graduate and 93% of Leo’s graduates are accepted by colleges and universities. 

Leo students are not affluent.  They come from very tough neighborhoods, characterized by gang violence, drugs and despair.  The come from families that hope and have faith.  Leo’s tuition remains the lowest of the Archdiocesan high school and the $3,000 tuition is still a great sacrifice to Leo families.  This school boasts a 99% tuition payment rate. 

Parents are active in the education of the young men who attend Leo.  The alumnus remains active in support of the school’s mission. 

Bob Foster is the iron link that bonds the worlds of success and achievement.  He preaches the gospel of focus and faith.  Leo men can win because they are taught that others will help them succeed.  The fire within a young man’s soul is cupped from the winds of despair that blow down 79th Street and gently fueled to burn with great passion within the walls of Leo Catholic Highs School.

Robert W. Foster, a south side Irish American, who grew up with dreams of one day coaching at Leo, teaches young men to believe in themselves, succeed at what the hold to be their dreams, and live lives that make a positive difference to themselves, their families, their communities and their country.

Comments

  1. Robert Lunsford 88 says:

    What a great man, im proud to say that i was recuited by him and most of all is that he influenced my life even to this day GOD bless BOB FOSTER and LEO HIGH< for the honor of the ORANGE and the BLACK Amen

  2. Gregory Lincoln says:

    WOW….Coach youre the BEST ! I graduated into the fraternity of Leo Men in 1976.
    I know without a doubt the people that nurtured, taught and disciplined me made
    me what and who I am today ! A proud father, a proud Marine, a proud Teacher,
    A proud IT Professional, and above all a PROUD LEO Man ! Go Lions !
    Gregory Lincoln
    Class of 1976

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