Carol Ruth McElroy Foster

Carol Ruth McElroy Foster, 90, died July 7, 2014, at Springhurst in Greenfield. Carol was born on the family farm near the town of Scotland in Greene County on Oct. 12, 1923, to the late J. Ralph and Elizabeth McElroy.

The family moved several times during her childhood, finally settling in Jollyville, North of Austin, Texas. She was a bright and competitive student. A high school science fair project earned her the title of most outstanding young scientist in Texas. After graduating in 1944, from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in bacteriology, she moved to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., where she worked with Max Delbruck, who in 1969, shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Although she was excited to work with scientists who helped to create the new field of molecular genetics, Carol chose marriage and family over graduate school and a career in research.

She married Thomas E. Foster of Greenfield, on Christmas Eve in 1944, in Austin, Texas. The young couple moved often during Tom’s army assignments and time at Purdue before settling down on the Foster Family Farm, West of Greenfield, in 1952.

She earned her teacher certificate from Butler University and began teaching in local elementary schools in 1959. After retiring from teaching she turned to journalism; writing, and taking photographs for the Hancock Journal and then the Hancock Advertiser.

Carol was active in many community organizations and worked on numerous local projects as a volunteer. She was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church and is perhaps best remembered for organizing the popular Strawberry Festival and Riley Days chicken and dumpling dinners. She was a strong supporter of local 4-H and other Cooperative Extension programs and of the Hancock County Farm Bureau, often working in the background to enable others to shine. For 55 years she was an active member of the Harmony Homemakers Club of the Hancock County Extension Homemakers. Other community activities included Tri Kappa and Toastmistress. She and Tom welcomed several Rotary Exchange students into their home and enjoyed learning about life in their countries as much as sharing American life experiences with them.

Always an eager student herself, she embraced opportunities to try something new, such as using a computer or traveling to a new place as she and Tom did when, at 80 years of age, they spent a month in New Zealand. She was proud of the accomplishments of her children, grandchildren, extended family members, students, and friends. She enjoyed celebrating the events in their lives. Those whose lives she touched will remember her warm smile, infectious laugh, integrity, and wisdom.

Carol is survived by her brother, James McElroy; sister, Mary Alice Taylor; daughter, Martha (Robert) O’Keefe; son, John (Debra) Foster; son-in-law, Michael Thonney; grandchildren, Thomas (Rie) and James (Lara) O’Keefe, Claudia Sahm, Michael and Dallas (Meggie) Foster, Elizabeth and Benjamin Thonney; and nine great-grandchildren.

Carol is preceded in death by her husband, Thomas; brothers, John and Howard McElroy; sister, Jean Knapp; daughter, Patrcia Thonney; and two infant sons.

A celebration of Carol’s life is planned for Sept. 6 at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Greenfield.

Memorial Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 116 South St, Greenfield, IN 46140.

Stillinger family funeral home is entrusted with arrangements.

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