NEWBERRY — Working hard to get the success he wanted from his life, Lee Foster is now the sheriff over the Newberry County Police force.
Foster was born and raised in Prosperity, a city population of about 1047 people, and part of Newberry County. Foster has an older brother, Dr. Richard P. Foster Jr. who was a graduate of Clemson University.
Including himself, Foster has a family of three — his wife Carol, and two children, Joseph and Amelia. Joseph is a graduate of Newberry High School and is now attending Newberry College. Amelia is currently a junior at Newberry High School and plays tennis and soccer.
Foster’s wife, Carol, graduated from Newberry College obtaining an education degree and taught at the high school in Newberry. His father, Dick Foster, and mother, Jennylee Foster, also were graduates of Newberry College.
Foster’s father played football at the college, going on to teach and coach at Newberry High School until getting job with the U.S. Postal Service in Columbia, working until retirement. Foster said his father instilled sports in him at an early age, as he played baseball and football at Mid-Carolina High School.
In 1973, during his sophomore year of high school, Foster joined the law enforcement cadet program. He graduated high school in 1975, his first choice of school being the Citadel, but they didn’t carry the major he had wanted.
Going on to attend the University of South Carolina in 1977, Foster studied criminal justice and applied professional science. In 1978, Foster became a full time police officer.
Foster said he felt like the outcast of his family because his brother had graduated from Clemson and so did many of his uncles, but he had wanted to be different and just branch out on his own path.
Foster didn’t always want to be a police officer, but rather a military air pilot, but because of injuries from football and his eyesight he was unable to achieve that dream. Being an officer was second on the list.
Being around his great aunt, who was a police officer, is what Foster says was a big influence on him growing up. While waiting for his mom and dad to come and pick him up, Foster said he got affiliated with the people around him. Being around deputies, officers and people on the fire department got him interested in those services at a young age.
Foster believes he has worked hard to get where he is now, starting from a cadet in high school to becoming a full time officer in 1978. Being in the business for 35 years, he said he has done and seen a lot in his time on the force.
During his time as an officer, Foster has been the police chief in Little Mountain, a deputy, an investigator, shift supervisor, a captain, and a senior criminologist. Foster said the most needed skills for his job are listening and communication, because without these no job or investigation is possible to complete.
Although Foster said he doesn’t have much free time, he enjoys attending his children’s sporting events. A big sports fan, he likes watching all different kinds of sports, which he feels is his getaway from his job and relaxation time.
The benefits Foster said what he takes away from his job are solving cases and receiving a small tip which can be the main part in a big case. Although there are many good things about his profession, Foster said there can also be very heavy on your heart. Having to cover fatal crashes or tell people they have lost a loved one is what Foster believes are the hardest things he has to do, but he says he loves his job and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Kevon Williams is a senior at Newberry College from Ware Shoals. He is studying the field of Communications.