Dr. Susan Shunkwiler, Dean of the HFC School of Health and Human Services, shared her memories of the late Vivian Foster, who taught nursing at HFC for more than 22 years.
“I loved her. She was an excellent instructor, one of the best,” said Shunkwiler, a 1980 HFC alumna. “She was very easy to talk to. She always recognized her former students if she ran into them at the store, which was pretty amazing.”
In their last semester at HFC, nursing students must complete clinical rotations at a hospital. However, Shunkwiler broke her foot ice-skating as the semester began. She knew she couldn’t complete clinicals wearing a cast.
Shunkwiler explained her problem to Foster, who wrapped her ankle and enabled her to continue. At night after a long shift, Shunkwiler would ice and elevate her foot, then start over again the next day. Shunkwiler managed to complete her clinicals and graduate on time.
“That was a lifesaver for me. If it weren’t for her, I would’ve graduated a semester late,” recalled Shunkwiler. “She went above and beyond for me, which is what I make sure the nursing faculty do for our students. She set the standard that we all follow.”
The heart of a nurse Foster, a Dearborn resident, died June 22, leaving behind her husband Albert W. Foster, as well as her son, stepchildren, and several grandchildren. She was 83.
In 1955, Foster became a diploma nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital in Marquette. She worked in Lapeer General Hospital until 1961. In 1969, she earned her graduate degree in nursing at Wayne State University.
Upon graduation, she went to work immediately at HFC, where she taught nursing for more than two decades. Many young women benefitted from her wisdom and guidance during her time at HFC, making her a favorite instructor. She retired in 1992.
“Her life was well-lived. We will miss her good humor, her friendliness, her intellect, and her love. All who knew her were blessed. After you have rightfully grieved her loss, remember to be grateful that she touched your life. I knew her for 42 years, and I was blessed,” said her husband, Albert.
Recently, a scholarship was founded in her name. Donations may be made to The Vivian Clark Foster Memorial Nursing Scholarship in care of HFC, 5101 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI 48128.