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

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


Foster Lloyd Brown, professor and best-selling college textbook author, passed away 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 statistical analysis from Cornell University in 1970, 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 1956-58 he taught anatomy, physiology, and microbiology at Bethany College, in Bethany, W.Va. He then taught anatomy to nursing students for Penn State at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. While a graduate student at Cornell in the early 1960s, 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. Foster was also an avid futurist and early adopter of promising technologies. He served on several community boards.

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 upstate New York. In Sarasota, he worked with state officials to name a lake in his neighborhood: Lake Ibis.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Rita; daughter, Celeste; son, Wendell (Craig); stepchildren, Ginny (Steven), Paula, Emanuel (Stephanie), and Rebecca; grandson Chase; stepgrandchildren, Michael, Anna, Hannah, Alex (Sarah), and Michaela; his brother, David (Jean); niece, Laurie; nephew, Ahmad, and numerous in-laws. He was predeceased by his parents; sister, Mary, and his first wife.

He had arranged that his body be given to Albany Medical Center for research. A Celebration of  Life will be held from 1-4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in the Atrium at Fitzelle Hall at SUNY Oneonta. A private family celebration will follow on Foster's next birthday, May 26.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a scholarship for students created by a former student in his honor, at http://oneonta.edu/give, specifying the “Steven Edelstein '79 Scholarship in Honor of Dr. Foster Brown," in the designation field "other."

Condolences may be posted at memorialwebsites.legacy.com/fosterbrown 





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