Papa Lou’s legacy lives on at Hickam Harbor

Friends and family of Lewis “Papa Lou” Foster scatter his ashes at Hickam Harbor during a ceremony Sept. 1. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares

Anna Marie General
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

Lewis P. “Papa Lou” Foster, a retired Air Force master sergeant and harbormaster, was honored with a scattering of ashes ceremony Sept. 1 at Hickam Harbor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Foster, for whom Foster Point Peninsula at Hickam Harbor is named, passed away July 16 at his hometown in Eagle Point, Ore. at the age of 90.

The ceremony began with welcoming remarks by Lisa Bednar, Wet Hens skipper, followed by a memorial message presented by Brandon Lavin, director of outdoor recreation. A prayer was also recited by Chaplain Haltom while guests bowed their heads in a moment of silence.

Soon after, a three-volley rifle salute was provided by the base honor guard and a bugler was also on hand to sound “Taps” as the American flag and urn were presented to Foster’s daughter, Connie Guthrie. One great-granddaughter, her husband and one great-great-grandson were in attendance.

More than 40 guests were also in attendance, including Col. Dann S. Carlson, deputy commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“The ceremony was amazing and beautiful and I felt like it honored him the way he was. It was Hawaii and it’s just amazing to be here,” said Guthrie.

Refreshments and a mai tai toast were provided in his honor with a big “aloha” before the scattering of hiS ashes on the waters of Hickam Harbor.

As the Wet Hens women’s sailing group and Foster’s family sailed out the harbor one boat at a time, a total of five boats sailed downwind following each other as they sailed around the harbor. Guthrie peacefully scattered her father’s ashes out in the water of Hickam Harbor on a beautiful sunny day. “This is what he would have wanted and how he would plan it,” said Guthrie.

Friends and co-workers also spread flower petals and lei in the calm water as they remembered their “Papa Lou.”

“I remember Papa Lou always smiling, had a good spirit and was a great family man. It was nice, good memories,” said Belinda Nakata who worked for “Papa Lou” in 1974 as a lifeguard at Hickam Harbor.

“Papa Lou and his wife Annie only had one child and that’s Connie and when we would go out to dinner, Annie would introduce me to whomever and would say that I was the son they never had,” said Chuck Robinson. “We became very close over the years. I took care of his boat and we did a lot of things together.”

Gary Cable, who was active duty Air Force in the 1960s, remembered how Papa Lou enjoyed working with people.

“Papa Lou was always bubbly and would sing Hickam Harbor in the Tiny Bubble song as he sang Hickam Harbor in the sun makes you feel happy, makes you feel fine. He instilled great values in his employees,” said Cable.

With numerous contributions to Hickam while on active duty and in civil service, through his love for the ocean he helped teach military spouses the art of sailing, which established the women’s sailing group known as the Wet Hens.

Based on history provided by the Wet Hens women’s sailing group, Foster was selected to design a recreational waterfront at Hickam in 1957 during his active duty Air Force career. He served 20 years of service from 1942 to 1962 and later worked for civil service. With hundreds of volunteer hours and joint help from Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel, Hickam Harbor emerged.

As the harbor began to take shape, a small group of military spouses were among the first to take sailing lessons from Foster until he retired from civil service in 1992. Today, the Wet Hens carries on his legacy by teaching military spouses how to sail and are forever grateful for their “Papa Lou” for empowering and supporting women in sailing.

“As Wet Hen instructors and as women sailors, we feel a connection to him because he empowered us. He started women sailing here when at the time was a male-dominated sport, so we are grateful that we can carry on his legacy by teaching other military spouses,” said Lisa Bednar, Wet Hens skipper.

According to the Pacific Yacht Club, “Papa Lou” is one of the most important people in their history, and it was through his many efforts that Hickam Harbor is beautiful today. He was the leader in sailing and promoting the sport of sailing for Hickam Harbor for years. He was a big supporter of the Wet Hens Sailing Program when it began, and he worked at the harbor as harbormaster and director of outdoor recreation.

Foster also has a list of accomplishments and an extensive love for other water sports such as competitive water skiing and competitive yacht racing where he won 15 championships in the 1950s and 1960s. He was the first American to ever sail with the Japanese National Championship Team, whom he helped coach while stationed in Japan.

While stationed in Japan, he found time to design three yachts. His first, the Haruzake, won the 1956 Japan National Ocean Racing Championship. When he transferred to Hawaii in 1957, he brought the three boats with him, and the Haruzake holds the record for sailing time around Oahu.

After his arrival in Hawaii in 1957, he won the Maritime Yacht race twice from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor in his own International 210 “Shark the 8th.” Other major victories include the 1960 Hawaiian Ocean Racing Championship Class “B” title and the 1961 Hawaii Race Week cup.

Of all the victories over the years, Foster said that beating the Navy in the Hickam-Pearl Harbor yachting series was the most enjoyable.

“He was certainly Hickam’s outdoor recreational master planner of his days,” said Jessie Higa, Hickam historian volunteer.

Foster’s legacy will live on for many years to come at Hickam Harbor through his extraordinary Wet Hens women’s sailing group, family and friends.

“It’s kind of an honor knowing that my great-grandfather’s legacy and name lives on here at Foster Point Peninsula at Hickam Harbor. My husband and I live in Schofield and every time someone visits, we take them out here to show the harbor he helped design and the podium dedicated to him,” said Jasmin Turner, Foster’s great-granddaughter.

“He has never seen the podium, but we were able to show him some photos that we took. He loved having a piece of him here, and I think he loved having us here because he felt more in touch,” she added.

To learn more about Lou Foster’s history, visit Hickam Harbor or call 449-5215 for more information.

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Category: News