Grace Foster was just as important to the beginning of the Community Craft Center as was Sara Starr. Grace joined the Peace Corp to set up a cottage sewing industry in Central America in the late 1960s and when she returned, she began a job with Anderson County Community Action Commission coordinating community centers.
Lee Billips said, “Sara Starr was in charge of craft development, and, I believe, Grace was in charge of Sara.”
Sara apparently had a creative accounting policy that Grace tried to keep in check. Sara used a sliding scale for payments. Her logic was easy to understand, but not financially sound.
She would say, “They need some repair work around the house, she’d better have $20,” or, “She hasn’t made much this month, I’ll put her down for $15.” Sara and Grace agreed that part of Grace’s job was also making sense of Sara’s travel reports.
Grace Foster working at the loom.
Grace Foster’s association with the Craft Center was an almost lifelong one. She taught classes in tapestry weaving and braided rug making. Grace also made and sold wheat-straw horse Christmas ornaments, acorn baskets, pottery, weaving, and tapestries as well as making baskets, quilts, braided rugs, and painting with watercolors and oils. She also lead wildflower hikes and carol-singing at the Christmas parties and contributed canoe trips as auction items.
Grace was known for her compassion and helpful nature when it came to the pain and losses of others.
Lee wrote, “When I was undergoing a long recovery from a major automobile accident and again after my husband died and I was trying to sort out a home two pack rats had shared, Grace showed her wonderful generosity and thoughtfulness. She said, ‘My time is yours from (and she named a time span of several hours). What can I do for you?’ What a marvelous gift! She came, she helped with cheerfulness and laughter thrown in for free, and my life was brightened immensely.”
When I joined the AACC several years ago, I still heard people talking about Grace even though she passed away in 2006 from lung cancer. Grace Foster’s influence in the Center still shows today in the generosity, inclusiveness and creativity so evident in the Center. Thank you, Grace.
– Denise May