June 17, 2009
There wasn''t much more one could add to what was expressed Tuesday at a memorial service for Don Foster at the Starkville Sportsplex.
Foster, the former sports editor of The Starkville Daily News, was a friend to many people, and I''m fortunate to be one of them. Don died June 8 at his West Point home.
Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt, Starkville High School baseball coach Danny Carlisle, and former Mississippi State Athletic Director Larry Templeton were the main speakers and couldn''t have done a better job in recalling memories of Don. Their words were heartfelt and sincere.
Don was a special friend and a good man," Templeton said.
No one could disagree with that.
My memories of Don date back 23 years ago when I was starting in sportswriting. Don was always supportive and offered guidance.
I started at The Starkville Daily News and Don worked at The Daily Times Leader in West Point at the time.
One of my first jobs was to take the late pages to West Point, where The Starkville Daily News. My instructions were to make sure to get the box into the hands of Don Foster in composing.
Once I found Don, it wasn''t a matter of just dropping off the pages and leaving. Don was glad to see me walk through the double doors so we could visit and we had interesting conversations that sometimes lasted well past midnight. He was interested in what I had to say even though I was young and inexperienced.
The last time I saw Don was June 1 at a Dizzy Dean baseball doubleheader. I had another appointment and was a little late for the first game. He was gracious enough to update me after I arrived.
Showing his wit until the end, Don noticed the Dallas Cowboys'' watch I wear on occasion. He asked me with a laugh if Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, gave me the watch.
Even though we never worked together, I respected Don''s work and learned a great deal from him about how to show compassion through writing.
The ability to write about an event and put names in the newspaper isn''t just a job to me, and wasn''t for Don. It''s a ministry.
Schmidt emphasized that point at the service and thanked Don for his service to her and her players.
"He loved coaches and he loved our children," Schmidt said. "Hopefully we can all play the game of life like he did."
Don was passionate about what he did and wanted to do it right. He never fully retired because he loved it too much. Nothing made him happier than to cover young players at an athletic event and to write about their abilities.
Well, he might like fishing as much. I was never much of a fisherman, but now I regret never taking any of those fishing trips Don invited me on.
It was hard keeping a lump out of my throat while listening to Schmidt, Carlisle, Templeton and others speak about Don.
Don was a one of a kind sportswriter, and I''m definitely a better person having known him. He will be missed.
Danny P. Smith is the assistant sports editor in charge of covering Mississippi State sports for The Commercial Dispatch. To contact him, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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