Political allies and rivals united in paying respect to late Sam Foster

Sam Foster Funeral

SAD… Sam Foster’s remains are carried into St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen

THERE was an impressive attendance from right across the community at last Friday’s funeral service in St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen for former DoE minister and Fermanagh councillor, Sam Foster (82).

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist party, David Trimble, who appointed Mr Foster to the post, was joined by other party stalwarts, including the present leader, Mike Nesbitt.


Also present was the Fermanagh South Tyrone Westminster MP, Michelle Gildernew and her party colleague, ex-councillor Paddy Gilgunn, a life-long friend of Mr Foster.

Senior officers and members of Fermanagh council were joined by Gerry Burns, the former chief executive of Fermanagh council. Omagh council was also represented.

Mr Foster’s widow, Dorothy, their children, Mervyn, Helen and David, his sister-in-law, Ethel (George) Foster, Colebrooke and her sons, Brian (Arlene) and Ian, the deceased’s nephews, were joined by DETI minister, Arlene Foster, niece-in-law.

Mr Foster was pre-deceased by his brothers, George who died in 1980 at the age of 42, and Billy who lived in Burnley and died 18 years ago.

The service was conducted by the Curate of St Macartin’s, Reverend Rob Clements.

He described Mr Foster as, ‘a gentle man, but also a determined man who could get things done’.

He told the congregation: “I’m sure there are those in the church today who disagreed with some of Sam’s allegiances, and that is fine.


“Disagreement is a healthy thing as long as it is respectful. But, what cannot be questioned is that Sam always did what he did because he believed it was the right thing to do.

“Sam was a man of tremendous conviction. He truly was his own man, he was not afraid to be unpopular for what he believed to be right.”

He said Mr Foster loved his community and he loved his church.

“He sat on the same seat for many years, a legacy of his time as a bell ringer. Even when his health was poor, he insisted on climbing those stairs to take his seat on the balcony.

“There were many Sundays Sam wore his suit but, at the last minute, had to turn back as his health was failing. But, Sam was a man of great determination.

I believe that Sam’s faith shaped him. He knew that the God he worshipped was not just a God for Sunday, but one that shaped every waking hour of our lives.

“I believe also that Sam knew that his faith extended beyond this life, that he would have to wrestle with stairs no more, nor wear a suit in vain, but that he would for all eternity dwell in the house of the Lord.”

Reverend Clements profiled his working career, first as a printer for 20 years in the ‘Fermanagh Times’, then as an educational welfare officer, a senior welfare officer and, finally social worker.

He spoke of his service in the security forces, locally, his membership of the Orange Order and the Royal Black Institution.

And, having sketched his political career, he suggested that ‘those who miss Sam most today’ did not miss him as minister or (council) chairman, but as husband, dad, granddad, and friend. “Dorothy will miss the man who she spied across the floor at a dance in Monea.

They had 62 years together, and the love between them was very real. Mervyn, Helen and David will miss a father who loved his children and would have done anything for them.”

“His friends will miss someone who would always go the extra mile, someone who was down to earth, who was not Samuel Foster CBE, but Sam or Sammy.”

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