"I have always been a person who wanted to help others whenever I can.
I feel that I am blessed to have gotten an education that has afforded me the opportunity to help others.”
– Dr. Francine Foster
Francine Dorane Foster was born on May 25, 1950 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Henry Louis Foster and Emma Doris Smith Foster. She is the second child for Henry and the oldest of the 5 children born to the union of Henry and Emma Doris. The family lived in Georgia until 1956 when Henry & Emma Doris packed up their car with their four small children, a tank of gas and five dollars in Henry's pocket and headed to California in search of “his dream” of racial equality and prosperity for their family. Henry,
Sr. and Emma Doris would achieve this dream through the creation of the H.L. Foster Construction Company, with their son Henry, Jr. aka “Butch.” The dream of racial equality and prosperity was instilled in Francine and was a goal she worked to bring to fruition her entire life. The family, which grew to five children, made their home in the Valencia Park neighborhood of San Diego, where they
were one of the first black families. Francine matriculated at Valencia Park Elementary, O'Farrell Middle School and graduated from Morse High School in 1968. Upon high school graduation, she enrolled in San Diego State University where she graduated in 1972 with a B.A. in Social Sciences. She obtained an M.A. from San Diego State in Education in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in reading, in 1974. She also acquired Twenty-Four post masters degree units in school administration between 1974-76.
Francine became Dr. Williams when she earned her Ph.D. in Education in 1993 from the joint degree program at Claremont Graduate School and San Diego State University. By doing so she far exceeded a promise she made to herself and her parents. She has several other credentials & specialized training in areas such as Education, Mediation/Conflict Resolution, Ethnographic research, and Multicultural Staff Development, as examples.
Francine met her future husband, Culbert, while working at the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department. Her father, Henry, Sr, gave his blessing for this union if Francine promised to finish college. They married on December 31, 1969. Their son, Sékou was born on February 19, 1973; and a daughter, Nicole, was born on September 20, 1976. Francine was a doting, loving, supportive, funny and creative mom. She sewed some of her children's outfits when they were younger, and occasionally dressed them in matching clothing. Francine was an avid reader her entire life and read daily to her children, later encouraging them to read regularly on their own. They earned extra bedtime reading by doing chores and behaving throughout the day; and it actually worked! Both children enjoyed extra-curricular activities during their youth, such as: swimming lessons that turned into competitive swimming for them both, however Sékou became an award-winning swimmer qualifying for nationwide competitions and sought out National for swimming programs; playing musical instruments (violin and flute); summer classes at The Elementary Institute of Science and the San Diego Zoo; Sékou played basketball into High School while Nicole danced at O'Farrell SCPA (later SDSCPA). Both Culbert and Francine encouraged education, self-sufficiency and giving back to society. They made it clear that there were no limitations on what their children could achieve. Francine took this lesson from her childhood, instilled it in her children and applied it to her entire teaching career.
Her first job in education was as an elementary school teacher (grades 4, 5 and 6) from 1974-1977, and a Project Resource Teacher from 1977-1982 at Knox Elementary School. At Knox she created the Martin Luther King, Jr. March as a way to teach the students through immersion what MLK, Jr. may have during his many marches for equality. She often brought her own children with her to the marches. In the February
1980 edition of Ebony Jr! the MLK, Jr. March she brought to life was discussed and an original poem written by her was published. Francine would continue to have several papers and articles published during her career about teaching methodologies and other subjects. Decades later her former students would recognize her in the community and make an effort to speak with her to say “thank you” and update her on
their lives. This is just one
example of the lasting positive impact Francine had as a teacher. Her career with San Diego Unified School District began at Knox but she served in several capacities throughout her tenure as an educator.
Francine worked in the San Diego Unified School District from 1974 until 2001. In 1982 she became the Vice-Principal of Walker Elementary; she then became the Principal of Freemont Elementary in 1984; and the Director of Race/Human Relations from 1987 – 1990. The name of the program changed to Race/Human Relations and Change in 1990, however, she remained at the helm until 2000. In this capacity, she coordinated the National Integration Conference in 1990; presented papers she authored at national teacher conventions, and was interviewed by several local news stations
about her work in violence prevention. Francine then became the Director of Planning, Development, Evaluation and Reporting where she remained until 2001. She also worked as an adjunct Professor at San Diego State University (1993-2002) and an Action Research Advisor at Cal. State University Los Angeles/ Pasadena Unified School District ("PUSD") from 2008-2010.
Francine was the Principal of Cleveland Elementary School from 2002-2010; and the Principal of Focus Point Academy & PALS from 2010-2011, both with PUSD. She retired in July 2011 after 37 years as dedicated and award-winning educator. While in Pasadena she received certificates of recognition and commendation from: California State Senator, Carol Liu (2009); Los Angeles Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich (2008); California Assemblyman, Anthony Portantino (2008) and State Senator, Jack Scott (2006). Despite these accolades, Francine remained modest about her accomplishments and achievements. Other awards and commendations she received for her excellence in Education and community service include, but are not limited to: Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Inc. Community Service Award (1988); Commendation Award, Mayor, City of San Diego (1989); The San Diego Baha'i Faith Community Nightingale Award (1994); Center to Prevent Handgun Violence Award (1995); ABC Channel 10 Leadership Award (1995); Outstanding Faculty Award, San Diego State University (1996); and Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Adam B. Schiff (Oct. 2006). She was the SDUSD consultant to the Karachi American School in Pakistan (1992). This afforded her the opportunity to travel Pakistan and experience another culture first-hand.
Traveling was a favorite past-time for Francine and something she cultured in her family. Culbert and Francine were taking “staycations” in and around San Diego County with their children before such a phrase existed. Francine took young Sékou and Nicole on a Foster family trip to Germany, Sweden and France when her sister, Love and family, were stationed in Germany. The family traveled routinely when Sékou and Nicole were swimming competitively; and took several family vacations throughout the year. Every year Francine and Culbert took a week-long vacation with their grandchildren, and/or the entire family, to destinations such as Vail and Denver, Colorado; Palm Springs, CA; Las Vegas, NV to see the Hoover Dam; Kauai, Hawaii; Arizona to see the Grand Canyon; and Monterey, CA.
The love and pride she had in being a Mom multiplied exponentially with the birth of each of her grandchildren. She chose the title of Grammie and relished any time she was able to spend with them. Culbert and Francine often retold stories of the funny things their grandchildren said or did, and marveled at their natural artistic talents. As she was with her own children, she frequently exposed them to other cultures through food and travel, read to and with them, and encouraged extra-curricular activities. She was also an encouraging influence for them to obtain their education(s) and to be productive members of society. Francine was devoted to GOD; a loving and supportive wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and cousin. Family meant everything to her and she meant everything to her family.
Francine unexpectedly returned to heaven to be with family who predeceased her on April 19, 2021. Left to keep her memory alive is her husband of 51 years, Culbert Williams; their two children: C. Sékou Williams (Shannon) and Nicole Terema Williams; five wonderful grandchildren: Naje Joquin Huff, Brittnee Williams Moore (Aaron), Leah Breann Williams, Kira Emma-Norine Williams, and Culson Sonny Williams; three sisters: Angela Hill; Romell Foster-Owens (Marvin) and Zarier Howard; and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins. All of whom will miss her immensely.
A service of Celebration will be held on Thursday, May 20th in the Chapel of Anderson-Ragsdale Mortuary (attendance by invitation of the family due to COVID Limits).
Interment will follow at Greenwood Memorial Park in the Foster Family Plot.
A livestream link will appear below the day of the service.
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