Tribute to Beloved BATW Member Lee Foster

Lee Foster

by Carole Terwilliger Meyers
(photo courtesy Greg Vaughn (
Lee Edwin Foster, a long-time member of BATW, passed away unexpectedly in his Berkeley home on July 19. Lee was known to many of us for his helpful, kind manner.  Friends who commented on Facebook mention how he was so “knowledgeable, always on the cutting edge, always willing to answer questions and help” and that he was a “giving man and astute journalist.”  And then, of course, there was his friendly smile and his eloquent banter shared and enjoyed most especially when his wit was nicely lubricated by a wine-enhanced dinner.

Photo by Greg Vaughn

Lee was born in Mankato, Minnesota, on July 23, 1943.  He died on July 19 at the age 76, just a few days shy of his 77th birthday.  Lee studied philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and literature at Stanford University.
Professionally, Lee scaled the heights.  He even wrote his own obituary featuring his dry humor and posted it on his website. In that, he writes, “Foster published words or photos, at one time or another, in every major travel magazine and newspaper of his time, from Travel + Leisure to the New York Times. His travel books won major awards. Over all, his work won seven Lowell Thomas Awards. He had been the first travel journalist ever to earn a dollar in publishing travel in an online situation, back in 1983, when he did a deal with CompuServe to put his travel writing online in return for a 10 percent royalty. He had travel photos in 225 books of a persistent brand known as Lonely Planet, which did not go bankrupt until 2015.”
Lee Foster Pt. Reyes. Photo by John Williamson

Lee published 18 books.  They are detailed on his Amazon Author Page.
You are invited to share your memories of Lee at his online memorial, Donations in Lee’s memory may be made to the California State Parks Foundation.


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2 Responses

  1. Lee was a highly respected photojournalist and publisher. His wit and charm will be missed. So sorry for his sudden demise Morton Beebe

  2. I knew Lee for nearly 40 years. I remember meeting him at travel industry functions in the 1970s when I was working for Pacific Travel News. Then, later, in the late 1980s, when I was editor of Odyssey magazine, I bought some of his photos. In 2003, I was looking for work, and Lee hired me to assist him. I edited his stories and all of his books. Together we sorted and uploaded what seemed like zillions of his photos (then on slides) onto a digital platform. Lee was an innovator. Videos, apps, you name it. If it was something new in travel writing, Lee was on top of it. And he was so generous in sharing his knowledge with other writers and photographers.
    I had just finished editing one of his stories the week before he died. I’m grateful to have worked with this kind and very talented man for nearly 20 years. I think what I will cherish most are the conversations we shared over lunch in his Berkeley kitchen. They ranged from philosophical discussions and politics to silliness. Dear Lee, I love you and miss you. Thank you for being a part of my life and all that you contributed to the travel writing community.
    Jim Gebbie

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