ROBIN FOSTER / 1950-2008
Community leader’s grass-roots efforts helped the needy
Robin Foster began a 30-year career as a community planner at the grass-roots level, joining an effort to provide services for low-income residents of Waikiki that led to creation of the Waikiki Community Center in the early 1970s.
His continued concern for the common good was applauded when he was honored in November for his accomplishments. The University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning cited his continuing efforts "to assure that the person with small resources and little power is able to participate" and his "stubborn insistence on doing what is right, especially for those whose voices are seldom heard." Foster was the first recipient of the Dinell Award for outstanding planning school alumni.
Foster, 58, died Wednesday at his Kailua home.
He was vice president of PlanPacific. He joined the private planning firm 13 years ago after more than 15 years with the city government, including years as chief of the Department of Land Utilization Environmental Affairs Branch and a four-year term as director of the city Planning Department. He was recognized statewide as an expert on coastal planning issues.
He continued to work on public-sector projects with the private firm. He was recognized by the American Planning Association for his 2000 revision of the Kauai County general plan.
"The plan won an award because it was very community-based, it involved all segments of the community," said PlanPacific President John Whalen. "He took it to planning fairs at public centers to seek people's viewpoints.
"Robin was a very community-oriented person and followed that lead in his professional work and private life," Whalen said. "He did a lot of pro bono work for community organizations. He was a very intelligent person who used his talents and energies for the community at large rather than for financial reward."
Foster was born in Baltimore and graduated from Punahou School and Yale University. He earned UH master's degrees in public health and planning.
He is survived by his wife Deborah Pope, sons John and William, father James W., brother Nelson, sister Dorothy and three aunts.
A memorial service will be held in August. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to Kokua Kalihi Valley, Mental Health Kokua or the Boston University Amyloidosis Treatment and Research Program.