Foster Lloyd Brown
May 26, 1931 - December 01, 2017

From obituaries published in the Oneonta (NY) Daily Star, Hometown Oneonta, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune,  Intelligencer & Wheeling (WV) News-Register, Morgantown (WV) Dominion Post, Shinnston (WV) News & Harrison County Journal, and Ithaca (NY) Journal.


Foster Lloyd Brown, professor and best-selling college textbook author, died Dec. 1, 2017, at Albany Medical Center, in Albany, N.Y., of complications following heart surgery. He was 86.

He was born May 26, 1931, in Wheeling, W.Va., the eldest of three children of Durward Belmont Brown, a Methodist minister, and Dorothy Rine Brown, an author. Upon graduation from Shinnston (W.Va.) High School in 1949, he served in the Navy.

Degrees included a bachelor's in botany from West Virginia University in 1954; a master's in plant physiology, also from WVU in 1958; and a doctorate in statistics from Cornell University, with post-doctoral research at the Imperial College London.

His co-authored book, “Statistical Concepts,” published by Harper & Row, became the world's best-selling paperback textbook on statistics, according to the publisher.

Teaching was his passion. From 1956 to 1962 he taught anatomy, physiology, and microbiology at Bethany College (W.Va.), and anatomy to nursing students for Penn State at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. While a graduate student at Cornell, he became a senior systems analyst for Cornell's Computer Center in Ithaca, N.Y.

In 1964, he became a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Oneonta, where he taught statistical analysis, measurement, chaos theory, and use of computers in psychology. He also team-taught subjects ranging from music theory to history, literature, and philosophy. Students knew him as an entertaining and kind professor who reassured students on the first day of class that no student who gave their all would fail.

Following retirement in 1995, he taught statistics for another two decades during summers as a professor emeritus, and served as faculty fellow for the college's computer center. He refused repeated nominations for distinguished teaching awards.

He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather; lover of books, all things science, nature and future, history, bad puns, dancing, scuba diving, chess, Scrabble, music, theater, and Mel Brooks films. He possessed an indefatigable optimism and enthusiasm for learning. He served on several community boards.

Foster was an early adopter of promising technologies. In 1970, he drove around town in an early electric car, a rebuilt Renault Dauphine sedan. Solar panels were another early favorite.

He married first Barbara Feather, in 1956, and second Rita Shulman, in 1981. During retirement Foster and Rita enjoyed traveling and being with family, splitting time between Sarasota, Fla. and Oneonta, N.Y. In Sarasota, he worked with state officials to map and name a lake in his neighborhood: Lake Ibis.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Rita; daughter Celeste Brown Thomas; son Wendell Douglas (Craig) Brown; step-children Ginny (Steven) Twersky, Paula Shulman, Emanuel (Stephanie) Shulman; and Rebecca Friedman; grandson Charles “Chase” Foster Thomas; step-grandchildren Michael Twersky, Anna Twersky, Hannah Shulman, Alex (Sarah) Shulman, and Michaela Shulman; his brother, David (Jean) Brown; niece Laurie Brown; nephew Ahmad Madjlessi; and numerous in-laws. He was predeceased by his parents; his sister, Mary Brown Madjlessi; and his first wife.

He had arranged that his body be given to Albany Medical Center for research.

A celebration of Foster's life will be held Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, from 1-4 p.m. in the Atrium at Fitzelle Hall at SUNY Oneonta. A private family celebration will follow on Foster's next birthday, May 26.

Memorial donations may be made at http://oneonta.edu/give, specifying the “Steven Edelstein '79 Scholarship in Honor of Dr. Foster Brown”; or to the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, or the Community Arts Network of Oneonta, N.Y. 

Visitors are welcome to sign the guestbook at memorialwebsites.legacy.com/fosterbrown 





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