John Witherspoon Foster ’70

John Witherspoon Foster passed away on July 8, 2022 at the age of 73 after a long battle with Lewy Body dementia. 

John was born on November 6, 1948 in Columbia, South Carolina to Charles Cantzon and Isabel Witherspoon Foster. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Dr. Charles McDonald Foster. Raised by an accountant with a penchant for farming and a schoolteacher, John deeply valued education and the outdoors. Congaree Farm, which belonged to John’s grandfather, is where he felt most at home. 

John obtained his undergraduate degree in political science and economics from Davidson College in 1970 before studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford. He then went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated cum laude in 1976. Following law school, John moved to New York City where he began his career as an attorney with Sullivan & Cromwell. He was married to Vesta Anne Haselden in 1977, and the two eventually moved back to their mutual hometown of Columbia to start a family. John practiced law and co-founded Foster Saad, a real estate development company dedicated to new development in the Midands and the preservation of historic buildings in downtown Columbia. 

John was an avid outdoorsman and particularly enjoyed hunting, horseracing, sailing, and flying airplanes. A colorful storyteller, John relished sharing tales of his adventures, like the time he crewed a sailboat from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Gibraltar, eating flying fish for dinner. He also had a passion for animals and a penchant for history. John’s greatest love of all however, was reserved for his daughters and grandchildren. 

John was a member of the Palmetto Club, Forest Lake Country Club, the Columbia Cotillion, The Centurion, and the Pine Tree Hunt Club. 

John is survived by his two daughters, Vesta Murray Ferris (Mead) and Isabel Foster Berbert (Tayloe); his grandchildren, Mead Boykin Ferris IV, Charles Witherspoon Ferris, Louise Blalock Ferris, Knox Blalock Berbert; his sister, Ann Foster Alexander; and his former spouse, Anne Haselden Foster. 

His family would like to give special thanks to the remarkable staff at Still Hopes Retirement Community who took such good care of John in his final years. 

A private memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, a sanctuary for retired thoroughbreds (PO Box 122 Greenville, NY 12083; 518-755-1813). Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel, is assisting the family.

Memories and condolences may be shared at