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Centenarian Polly Foster passes away at age 105

One of Butler County’s oldest residents, Pauline Parker Day Foster has passed away. 

The year 1912 will be remembered for several world events that are forever etched in history books.   Woodrow Wilson became president, New Mexico joined the United States, and the Titanic set sail and sank.  Meanwhile in Butler County, one sweet soul made her way into this world and made her mark on all that knew and loved her.

Foster was born on October 23, 1912 in Searcy, Alabama, a small community just outside of Greenville, to parents Joseph Andrew Day and Clara Corrine Parker.  The oldest of four children, Foster lived a full and fruitful life. 

Attending elementary school at Searcy School, she graduated from the fifth grade with top honors. Her nephew Bob Foster recalls his aunt’s stories of “flagging down the train” for her to board to attend school every day.  “She said the men in the community always flagged down the train for everyone to board each morning and again in the afternoons.  I believe it was just a sign of the times in Searcy,” he added. 

As school went on, Foster continued to make good marks and graduated from Butler County High School May 15, 1933 as Valedictorian of her class.

At the start of the depression, Foster found her true love – Mr. James Columbus Foster (J.C.), and they were married on June 4, 1933. “Uncle J.C. and Aunt Polly were so congenial and were the perfect match for each other,” Bob said.  After marrying, the couple opened a store together on Highway 10 East. Bob said it was a general country store that sold gas, hoop cheese, salted fish, and candy. “It was a wonderful place, I went with Mama all the time,” he added.  The pair lived and worked in the store until moving to Greenville in 1974. The couple was married for 67 years until J.C.s passing on September 13, 2000.

Foster’s niece Annette Norris said one of the fondest memories she recalls is when “Uncle J.C. and Aunt Polly would come to see us every Sunday afternoon when we lived in Luverne. One Easter Sunday it was very cold and I was sick, so Aunt Polly hid the Easter eggs inside the house for me to find.”

She was just that way – such a sweet, caring spirit, said another niece, Linda Rainey. “She was also a wonderful storyteller and each time I visited her, I jotted down some wonderful stories that she would share about herself, events happening at the time, and stories about other people who were a part of her life.” Rainey compiled all of Foster’s stories into a storybook that was presented to family and friends at her funeral. Some of Foster’s stories recalled many important historical events of her time. Events such as World War 1, the night the stars fell in Alabama, and the coldest day in Butler County that registered in at a staggering -5° F were just a few of the notes recorded.  With 105 years of life experience, Foster captured the history of the nation, state, and county, along with the story of her own life.   With so many stories to tell and a talent for writing, Foster’s short stories were featured in the Montgomery Advertiser and the Greenville Advocate.

Foster’s great niece Amma Brown described her as “ a tiny, little lady. […] The phrase ‘though she be but little, she is fierce’ is the perfect phrase to describe her,” said Brown.  “Fierce in the way that she had so much spunk and such a great sense of humor.”

A woman of faith, Foster served as a member of Antioch East Baptist Church for 90 years.  One sentiment shared by all who loved her is that her sweet spirit will certainly be missed.   

Family and friends gathered as Foster was laid to rest Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, with Brother Ronnie Boulware officiating.  She was one of the oldest living citizens in Butler County.