ROCKPORT - Col. Peter J. Foss, Army officer, professor, journalist, and horseplayer, passed away in his residence in Rockport on Saturday, June 9, 2007 after a valiant battle with leukemia.
He was an accomplished man, having two full, distinguished careers; commanding trust and respect from his soldiers and students by his dedication to fairness and his enthusiastic, reassuring leadership. His absolute devotion to family, duty, honor, and service will be a loss too great to bear. He will be deeply missed.
Born on April 16, 1929 in Litchfield, Minn., the oldest boy of ten kids, he graduated Litchfield High '47, and then from West Point Military Academy, Class of 1951.
During the Korean War, Peter commanded multiple units, and extended his combat tour six months. While stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., Pete met Marie Gerrior, a flight attendant for American Airlines. They married in Augsburg, Germany in May 1956. By March 1960, they had three children.
Peter served again in Korea in 1966, and then attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for a Master's of Journalism.
In 1969, after a one-year utilization tour in Kaiserslauten, Germany, he received orders for Vietnam. Peter joined the 82nd Airborne and then took command of the
1st battalion, 508th Airborne Infantry. He extended his tour and commanded the 46th Infantry in the jungles near Laos.
At Ft. Benning, Ga. in 1970 to 1971, Peter was designated the Public Affairs Officer for the My Lai court-martial trial of Lt. Calley, coordinating more than 100 reporters daily for the highly publicized trial. Calley was found guilty of 22 counts of murder. All subsequent appeals against the press coverage by Calley's defense team were denied and the verdict was upheld. This was one of Pete's proudest achievements of his military service.
Peter's last assignment was at the Pentagon to handle the Policy and Plans Division for Office Chief of Information. During the exchange of the POWs with the North Vietnamese in 1973, he was responsible for the Army public affairs planning, assuring proper steps were taken with the servicemen to get their affairs in order and reacclimatize before meeting with an eager local press corps. Peter retired as a full colonel in 1973.
Peter headed, and expanded, the Media-Communications Department at North Shore Community College for 23 years and named Professor Emeritus and "Best of the Best" in 1995, an annual award given to the most respected teacher of the faculty.
In 1996, he retired from his full time tenured professor position,
but still taught an occasional evening class for many years after. He was
proud some of his students achieved acclaim in the Mass Media field, and in
following years, enjoyed running into former students and hearing how much
he had made a difference.
Peter was also a guest lecturer for the Boston College, and served six years on the North Shore Regional Vocational School Committee (1975 to 1981) during the start-up and construction of the school. He taught a weekly class at St. Mary's Parochial School, Beverly, on a volunteer basis from 1990 to 1996. From 1981 to 1992, he served on the advisory committee for West Point Academy nominations.
He was a member of the English Lunch Club. Peter served on the parish council of St. Joachim and a lector for many years.
Pete had a lifelong passion for the horse racing, always taking in the nearby racetracks wherever his travels took him. He was the king of the $1 trifecta box and always gave Marie a cut of the winnings. "The Colonel" was a familiar face at Suffolk Downs and Rockingham Park, and on August weekends, attended the Mecca of horseracing, Saratoga. Peter wrote several freelance magazine articles for horse racing publications, combining his interests in racing history, personalities, and art. He was an elected member of the New England Turf Writers Association and served on the scholarship selection committee.
He is survived by his loving best friend and wife of 51 years, Marie; his devoted children and their spouses, Deborah Foss Cox and husband Steven of Rochester, N.Y., Peter Michael Foss and wife Jenifer Locke of Gloucester, Mary Foss Murphy and husband Bob of Beverly; his five terrific grandchildren, Kellen Murphy, Kristin Cox, Steven Cox, Charlotte Foss, and Lena Foss; his caring siblings, John Foss, Bernadette Hughes, Teresa O'Brien, Claire Bauer, Martin Foss; along with many, many in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends, as well as his dedicated network of classmates of '51 West Point.
He is predeceased by his parents, Peter and Mary; and his siblings, Maryanne Delambre, Joe Foss, Tom Foss, and Ted Foss.
ARRANGEMENTS: His funeral will be held from the Burgess & Mackey Funeral Home, 201 Main St., Rockport, on Friday morning at 9:15 a.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Joachim's Church, Holy Family Parish, Broadway, Rockport, at 10 a.m. The burial will be in The West Point Cemetery, New York.
Visiting hours in the Burgess & Mackey Funeral Home will be on Thursday 4 to 8 p.m. Relatives and friends are cordially invited. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to his selected scholarship funds, Peter J. Foss Memorial Scholarship at North Shore Community College, 1 Ferncroft Road, Danvers, MA 01923, Attn: Scholarship Fund or to The New England Turf Writers Assoc. Scholarship Fund, c/o Tom Chace, P.O. Box 80007, Stoneham, MA 02180.
[The Salem Evening News, June 12, 2007]