Nella Foster, beloved wife, mother and grandmother, passed away surrounded by her family on July 16, just shy of her 90th birthday. Given a long history of health issues and stubbornness to live her life her way, it was Nella’s fighting spirit which she was known for.
Nella was the second oldest of seven children. Growing up in Seattle, with her father, a tugboat captain who was often out to sea, and her mom, busy with managing the other children, Nella began cooking and shopping for the family at the age of 9. For the rest of her life she was always prepared for a crowd with cupboards stocked, enough food for an army on the table and a generous, hospitable heart to share with everyone who walked through her door. Her fondest childhood memories were from the summers she spent at her family’s homestead on Andersen Island in Puget Sound. Always outgoing and independent, Nella grew up a tomboy having adventures of being chased by a bull on the way to school, falling in quicksand, playing baseball with the boys, and being the first girl to wear pants to Queen Anne High School.
It was this independence, charm and sassy spirit that wooed Walt Foster. Her red hair, green eyes, style and ability to throw a baseball from the outfield literally caused him to run into a light post in front of her house just to trying to get a glimpse of her. The trick worked and their love story spanned 73 years together. Walt and Nella supported one another throughout all of life’s joys and challenges. Their fortitude, solidarity and loyalty to one another exemplify the meaning of commitment and love. On their 69th anniversary a friend wrote: “I have never seen a man love a woman like Walt loves Nella. It is an example to all of us in the younger generation.”
After three years of persistence, Walt was able to buy the Stewart homestead in Mazama and the five-bedroom ranch house in 1962. Nella hosted many meals and gatherings of family and friends over the decades in the “Ranch House” and re-created the magic she had experienced as a child for her grandkids.
Though a tomboy in spirit, she struck a balance with her own consummate style: high heels, makeup and jewelry. Sparkle, fancy and flair dominated her wardrobe, but she wasn’t truly dressed until she had her “face on” with British Red lips, dramatic penciled eyebrows and her natural apple cheeks with a touch of blush. She was dressed and ready to have a Salty Dog or go to the store. Her closet was a museum of evenings dancing, parties hosted and great times she had had. It was every little girl’s dream dress-up closet, and she happily obliged.
Worthy of the pedestal which she was placed upon in our hearts, Nella charmed everyone until the end. Still winking, still smiling, still giving. Her legacy is love and grace. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the years that we had and all that she gave us.
Together Walt and Nella built a beautiful family: their daughter Carol, and three grandchildren, Trish Rouse, Todd Rouse and Katrina Rouse Kadah; and three great-children, Wyatt, Nella Mae and Lilly Belcher. She is survived by her brother, Gordon Warner of Auburn, Washington. Her family is forever grateful for the dedication of the doctors and health professionals who treated Nella like family over the years.
A celebration of her life will take place in Mazama this fall. Details to follow. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in kind to Aero Methow Rescue Service. They have been a godsend to our family and many others in times of need. We truly appreciate you.