Alumni Necrology

Craig Warren Foster '60

Craig Warren Foster '60, whose determined efforts as an advocate improved educational opportunities for the children of Texas, was born on May 28, 1938, in Olean, NY. The son of Lloyd E. and Miriam Kinney Foster, he grew up in Wellsville, in New York's Southern Tier, where he was reared by his mother, a school teacher, and stepfather following his father's death. Craig Foster came to Hamilton from Wellsville Central School in 1956, joined Tau Kappa Epsilon, and sang for four years in the Choir. Affable by nature, he majored in psychology while engaging in "endless philosophizing over coffee" in the Commons basement café.

Craig Foster enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard soon after his graduation in 1960. Commissioned as an ensign, he served for two years. The Coast Guard brought him to Texas, where he stayed on to become, in 1962, a staff member of the Galveston County Research Council. Promoted to research director, he was named executive director of the non-profit governmental research association in 1967. Heading the Council's efforts to stimulate local economic growth, he found himself immersed in property tax issues and gradually gained great expertise in that field.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Texas school finance system was unfair to poorer school districts and that the state had the responsibility to remedy the situation, which led to more than 20 years of litigation. Craig Foster, whose work with the Intercultural Development Research Association in San Antonio in the 1970s had added school finance equity to his property tax expertise, quickly grasped that poorer school districts would have to band together to pressure the state for needed funds.

To that end, he founded in 1982 and served for 18 years as executive director of the Equality Center in Austin, a consortium of less affluent school districts that became the nation's largest non-profit education organization dedicated to promoting school finance equity. The Center lobbied the Legislature and, beginning in the 1980s, engaged in many years of litigation. Craig Foster considered the pinnacle of his career to have been the 80 hours he spent on the stand as the chief expert witness for the poorer school districts in all four trials of the landmark Edgewood school finance case (1986-94).

Utilizing his mastery of school finance and all the relevant data, his ardent advocacy helped persuade the Texas Supreme Court in 1989 to rule the state school finance system unconstitutional. Three times the court subsequently rejected the Legislature's plans to narrow the financial gap among the school districts, finally approving the fourth plan in 1995. Although Craig Foster's goal was essentially achieved by 2000, he continued for a few years as an advisor to the Equity Center as well as serving on state-appointed school finance and property tax committees. By playing a key role in remaking the state's entire school finance system, he had contributed fundamentally to assuring a better education for every Texas child, regardless of background. In so doing, he left a legacy of great if little-heralded achievement in his adopted state.

Craig Foster retired in 2003 and moved from Austin to Kerrville in the Texas Hill Country. Summers he enjoyed spending along the coast of Maine. Before his death in Kerrville on December 17, 2007, he had undergone several months of experimental treatment for uveal melanoma, a rare cancer. Among survivors are his wife, Denise Dodson, whom he had married in 1979, and two sons, Robert and Adam, and a daughter, Rachel. He had previously been married, to Helen M. Guthier, in 1963.
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Thomas Walter Jackson '67

Thomas Walter Jackson '67, an attorney-at-law, was born on April 15, 1945, to Robert C., a publishing company executive, and Lura Street Jackson, a journalist, in Montgomery, AL. Tom Jackson grew up in Dobbs Ferry, NY, and in Chevy Chase, MD, where his mother lived after his parents had separated. He was graduated in 1963 from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. That year he came to Hamilton and joined Alpha Delta Phi. Majoring in history, and with extracurricular time devoted to dramatics, he left the Hill with his diploma in 1967.

That summer, Tom Jackson wandered up to Montreal to take in Expo '67, camping along Lake George on the way. He intended to enter law school in the fall, largely "to fend off Uncle Sam" at a time when the military draft was still in effect, while deferring a decision on a future career. However, after receiving his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School in 1970, he committed himself to the law by joining a then small Wall Street firm, Jacobs, Persinger & Parker.

Tom Jackson would remain with that firm, which engaged in the practice of general corporate law, for the rest of his professional life. Named a partner, he commuted to its offices in lower Manhattan from his home in suburban Scarsdale. There, he and his wife, the former Nan S. Segerman, whom he had wed in 1980, reared their three children. There, also, he enjoyed gardening, reading, and tinkering with model cars and planes. His other recreational pleasures, besides ballroom dancing, included golf, tennis, and down-hill skiing, "carry-over" sports to which he had been introduced at Hamilton.

Tom Jackson, introspective and self-reflective, observed when in middle age that "I still have very little idea of what I want to do with my adult life." However, with his modest aspirations, he found much contentment in the life he led. At the end of it, in a brief death notice in The New York Times, he was described as "eccentric, admired by all for his bravery, kindness, intelligence, originality, compassion and patience. A factotum attorney, amateur engineer, hobbyist, always a techie, avid reader." He must have been an interesting man to know.

Thomas W. Jackson, who died on September 28, 2007, is survived by his wife Nan as well as three sons, Christopher L., Peter H., and William A. Jackson.
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Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

Editor, Hamilton Alumni Review
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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