The St. Paul Public Library has named Tom Foster the 2014 Volunteer of the Year for his dedicated work with children at the library’s St. Anthony Park branch.
Foster and his menagerie of furry puppet friends have partnered alongside staff and volunteer Deena Strohman for more than 11 years. Foster is the former principal at St. Anthony Park Elementary School.
He grew up in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood, graduating from Murray High School in 1958. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1963, his master’s degree in reading from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls in 1971 and his education specialist certificate from the University of St. Thomas in 1975. He taught in St. Paul Public Schools for 17 years and was a principal for 23 years, ending his career as a principal at St. Anthony Park Elementary School in 1999.
Foster got his first library card at the St. Anthony Park Library.
Foster was honored at the St. Paul Public Library’s volunteer recognition dinner at the Landmark Center in May. Along with the award, Foster received a number of gift cards from area businesses, including Tim & Tom’s Speedy Market, Micawber’s Books, Bibelot, Muffuletta, Colossal Cafe, Dunn Bros. and Hampden Park Co-op.
Foster, who lives in Como Park, has six children, 26 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His life of service includes his volunteer position as the bishop of the St. Paul Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a position which he has held for 15 years.
“Say his name, and just about everyone in St. Anthony Park knows who he is and all he has done for his neighbors and their children,” said St. Anthony Park librarian Susan Henry in her introductory speech at the dinner. “Mr. Foster lives a life of service, and we are very fortunate that he gives us his time and is committed to giving the children and families in our community a lifelong love of reading.”