Eulogy to Neil Foster
Prepared and delivered by Gordon Miller, March 16, 1988, Colon, Michigan: “I deem it an honor to have been asked and to be allowed to deliver this eulogy for my friend, Neil Foster.
A eulogy is nothing more than a personal recollection. During his lifetime, Neil Foster touched everyone here in attendance, and thousands more who are here in spirit, with his presence. To some he was a casual acquaintance or a customer or a neighbor. To others he was a co-worker, a teacher, a relative or a friend. He was all these things and more.
Any man fills many roles during his lifetime. He is first a boy and then a man and, if providence allows, a husband and possibly a father. My first recollection of Neil was in the role of The Idol. Neil was an almost legendary figure in his chosen field of magic. He was respected and revered for his high level of skill, his masterly presentations and his superb showmanship. I knew of him first only through the writings of others.
While Neil and his wife Jeanne were traveling the school assembly entertainement circuit, a complex series of circumstances resulted in their retiring from that nomadic life and ended with them settling here in Colon. The Fosters joined the staff of the Abbott Magic Company. My idol now stood across the showroom counter from me. we were now Casual Acquaintances.
During one of our conversations I managed to convince Neil to act as my instructor – a dream come true for a young man bewitched by the art of magic. And Neil’s role changed to that of The Teacher. I shall always remember those evenings, first at the little house on Romine Street and later at the house on Goodell Avenue. I paid for one hour’s instruction and usually spent over three hours each night once a week, talking, listening and learning. As others had discovered before me and still others had discovered after me, Neil Foster was incomparable as a teacher. Just as he was as a performer – he was the best.
It was certainly during this time that Neil became my Friend. When Neil became the
Editor of The NEW TOPS magic magazine, I joined the staff of the Abbott Magic Company and we became Co-workers – a condition that lasted until his retirement in 1979.
All hiis life Neil pursued a variety of interests, in addition to those we have briefly touched upon. He was an artist and an illustrator whose talents range from catalog line drawings to oil portraits. He edited a magazine, which his wife typeset, for over nineteen years. Both he and his wife were voracious readers; Jeanne favored detective mysteries, Neil devoured biographies and travel books. Both were addicted to late night television, expecially old movies. The house on Goodell Avenue was justly famous for the gardening and landscaping efforts the Neil created. The lush flower arrangements, the thick shrubbery and hedges and the great variety of trees formed a safe haven for all the neighborhood birds, squirrels and rabbits – and a natural and relaxing retreat for the Fosters and their friends.
I am grateful for my priviliged position. I was a frined to both Neil and Jeanne for over a quarter of a century. I saw them as man and woman, as husband and wife and as surrogate father and mother. We traveled together frequently and often performed on the same show. What an advantage to see the best in the business hundreds of times! What a collection of memories!
This, then, was Neil Foster. Idol, Acquaintance, Co-Worker, Teacher, Role Model and Friend. I often had the enjoyable task of introducing Neil to an audience. It was the easiest job in the world. All I had to say was: Ladies and Gentlemen … Neil Foster … the best!”
Gordon Miller has appeared at Abbott’s Get-Together in 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.