New Haven activist receives street corner dedication
By RANDALL BEACH
Oct. 30, 2017
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Samuel D. Foster's widow, Patricia Newton-Foster, blinked back tears Saturday as she looked up at the street corner sign named in his honor.
"I'm overwhelmed," she said. "My husband was a really good man."
Foster, a beloved neighborhood activist in New Haven's Hill neighborhood, died three years ago. But as several speakers noted during a dedication ceremony for the street sign Saturday afternoon, his legacy lives on and he will never be forgotten.
However, it's not easy getting a street corner named for someone. Newton-Foster said she walked the streets of the neighborhood, going door-to-door to gather hundreds of signatures calling for the designation.
And now Samuel D. Foster Corner is at the intersection of Arch Street and Congress Avenue, next to the Newton-Foster Home Care Agency where he and his wife built a business to train certified nurses.
"My husband cleaned up this corner when it was drugs and dealers, from one end to the other," Newton-Foster said. "He told them they had to leave, to take their drugs somewhere else. And they did."
She acknowledged it was dangerous to confront the dealers and drug-users. "He was brave. He did not fear them. The way he spoke to them, they respected the fact that we are God-fearing people."
Newton-Foster said there were times when she too went out to that corner to tell the bad guys to clear out. "I told them I would call the police. They called me 'the crazy lady.'"
Family members came from many miles away, some of them from Georgia, to honor Foster Saturday. His daughter, Carol Allen, told the crowd, "We knew he always took care of this corner. He even paid for the light on the corner; we never knew that until he passed away. This corner will always be my dad's corner."
Evelyn Rodriguez, the alder in Foster's fourth district, said he was "a leader without a title." She pointed to a large banner on a building across the street from Foster's corner. Its message: "Drug free zone." She noted Foster helped get that sign posted.
Democratic Mayor Toni Harp said she remembers Arch Street before Foster and others began their work. "It's been transformed by people who worked together as neighbors. We were blessed that Sam Foster came this way to perform his service. I'm grateful we have this corner to help remind us of what we should all do to be better citizens of the community in which we live."
Because Foster and his wife had close ties to Bridgeport, its mayor, Democrat Joseph Ganim, came to the ceremony. And so did Bridgeport resident and former state senator Ernie Newton. He noted, "Sam was my brother-in-law."
Ganim said, "The number of people here today and this tribute reflects who Sam was."
Foster was a dedicated Mason, and so a half-dozen Masons were on hand Saturday, praising him for his service with that organization. One of them, Harold Russell, said: "Sam was not just a good Mason, he was also a good friend."
Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com