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November 18, 2013


Family is Acknowledged for the 80 Years of Residency in their Home and for Preserving the Integrity of the Neighborhood with a Restoration Project  

The Foster Family was honored during the Freeholder Board’s November 18th meeting at the Hall of Records.  Family members and sponsoring freeholders are pictured above: Front Row (left to right), Autumn Robinson, Erslyn Foster, Samuel Foster, Jr., Rhonda Foster (Ware), Albert Foster, and Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley. Back Row (left to right), Stephanie Baker, Tony Baker, Freeholder Rufus Johnson, Dabney Washington and Freeholder Gerald Owens.   PHOTO BY GLEN FRIESON

(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored the Foster Family for over 80 years of residency in Newark’s West Ward and for their dedication to the posterity of the community by investing in the renovation of their home. The Family was commended for improving the appearance, in addition to preserving the integrity of the neighborhood at large. The presentation was given during the Monday, November 18th meeting, held at the Hall of Records, and was shared by co-sponsoring Freeholders Rufus I. Johnson, D. Bilal Beasley and Gerald W. Owens who presented the Board’s Commendation.

Freeholder D. Bilal Beasley began the presentation by sharing how the board first learned of the Foster Family and their story of perseverance to maintain a residence in the West Ward of Newark. He noted Samuel Foster, Jr., who made the trip from Silver Spring, Maryland to be present for the event, initially contacted the Clerk of the Board’s Office with the story. A man now in his senior years, was a one year old child when his parents bought the home.  Located on South 14th Street in Newark, the home has been in the family for over 80 years and now houses the fourth generation of Fosters. Freeholder Beasley noted, “It is said that “home is where the heart is” and since 1933, the Foster Family has maintained their home throughout the years and the many transitions of the city.” Freeholder Gerald Owens added, “The Foster’s heartwarming story might motivate others to invest in their homes, which in turn, increases property value; curb appeal; and preserves the historical integrity of the neighborhood.”  Finally, Freeholder Rufus Johnson shared highlights of the Commendation noting, “I applaud them for their passion and commitment to stay in the city against whatever the odds.”

The Foster Family home is located at 79 South 14th Street in the West Ward of the City of Newark.  The home was purchased by Samuel A. Foster, Sr., and Ninetta R. Foster in 1933.  They had three children who were raised in the home; Albert R. Foster, Gloria Foster Blake and Samuel A. Foster, Jr.

Samuel A. Foster, Sr., was employed by the Fidelity Union Bank (currently First Fidelity).  He started as a Custodian and Elevator Operator and finally retired as a Teller.  He was the first African American Teller in the State of New Jersey and was featured in an article in the Star Ledger in 1990.  His wife, Ninetta, was a musician (organist & pianist) who played for various churches throughout Essex County and was also a seamstress for the Weiss Company in Newark.

Even though Samuel, Sr., and Ninetta ultimately divorced, Ninetta remained in the home until 1950, when she sold the home to her son, Albert R. Foster and his wife Jacqueline (nee Byrd) Foster. Albert was Chief of Maintenance for Newark Housing Authority while Jacqueline was a Crossing Guard for Newark Public Schools. They lived in the home until they expired; Albert in 1996, and Jacqueline in 2007. They raised five children in the home; Cheryl D. Foster, Rhonda M. Foster (Ware), Richard Foster, Marsha J. Foster and Albert M. Foster.

Currently, the home is owned by Stephanie Baker (the great granddaughter of Samuel A. Foster, Sr.) and her husband Tony Baker.  They purchased the home for two very good reasons; first, to live there and comfortably take care of her grandmother, Jacqueline who did not want to leave the house and secondly, the profit from the sale of the home would help Jacqueline with her medical expenses and home health care assistance while Stephanie and Tony worked.  Stephanie recalls convincing Tony of the idea of the purchase a “hard sell” because of the declining neighborhood.  However, the greater good of helping her grandmother was important and won him over.  Needless to say, the house was in disrepair and needed major work before they could move in. This was a true “Labor of Love,” recalls Stephanie.

After 80 years, Stephanie and Tony Baker represent the fourth generation of Fosters welcomed into the Foster Family home. Stephanie says that she grew-up in the house, in that, it was her grandparents’ home and she and her mother Cheryl Foster were always there.  After a major renovation, on August 7, 2013, a Foster Family Reunion was held at the home and was attended by more than 100 Foster descendants and friends.

Stephanie Baker and her husband Tony accepted the Commendation on behalf of the Foster Family.  She introduced family members who were present and in her comments she thanked the freeholder board for acknowledging them and stated, “the home has always created what we knew as a warm, loving, wonderful environment,” she went on to say that she is happy that her husband agreed to buy the home to help her grandmother, because in Stephanie’s words, “she was truly the love of my life.” Mr. Samuel Foster, Jr., affectionately called; “Uncle Sammie” arrived in the nick-of-time to give remarks of acceptance, as well.

The presentation was also attended by Freeholder President Blonnie Watson, Freeholder Carol Clark, Freeholder Leonard Luciano and Freeholder Brendan Gill.

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For Additional Information:
Kathy R. Brown, Research Analyst
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders


Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695