A photo of James Michael Foster

James Michael Foster

November 24, 1946 - April 29, 2021

James Michael Foster passed away on April 29, 2021, succumbing to prostate cancer. Michael was born on November 24, 1946, the first child of James E. Foster and Marguerite Hunnicutt Foster, in Norfolk, VA.

Music permeated his life from learning to play the French horn in elementary school to being a member of his high school marching band and eventually majoring in music at University of Richmond. He earned a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina (MS) and a Master of Arts in Music History (MA) from the University of Virginia. Having achieved these educational milestones he finally felt he was prepared for his lifelong crusade of bringing music to the masses. Michael accomplished his mission through his career at the University of Delaware where he was music librarian for over thirty years; through his teaching both on the college level and adult continuing education at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; and through his avocation as a radio broadcaster for WVUD. Michael was also a faithful servant of the Delaware musical community volunteering his knowledge and mellifluous voice for narrations and concert notes.

His appreciation for beauty went beyond music as he filled his home with beautiful pieces of handcrafted art, antiques and collectibles. Attending craft shows, visiting museums, watching plays and live concerts, and spending time on his beloved “big water” occupied much of his leisure time.

Michael is predeceased by his parents and five much loved Boston terriers. He leaves behind, his wife, Arlene Kelso, his brother; John Scott Foster and sister in law Karin Foster; nephews Joshua Foster and Adam Foster; an incredible extended family on his wife’s side; Quincy, an adorable but smelly Boston Terrier; and most likely 5,000 jazz and classical music LP’s and CD’s.

The opportunity to gather to remember Michael, tell funny stories, and celebrate a life well lived will be on Saturday, May 8, 2021, from 10:00am to 12:00pm, at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE. Face masks are required for all in attendance. Service and interment will be held privately.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to WVUD Radio, 325 Academy Street, Newark, DE 19716.


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14 Condolences for James Michael Foster

  • Arlene, I am so very sorry to read of your husband’s passing. You have been such a dedicated caregiver throughout a time made even more trying by the pandemic. My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family.

  • Losing Michael is an incredible blow to the local music and arts community. He was so dedicated to preserving and spotlighting these works to the community. I’m glad that I got to know Michael better over the past 12 years or so at WVUD. He was the consummate professional and gave so many hours to us. He was also funny as heck! I’ll miss talking about family, dogs, music…..and of course, those jokes (even the ridiculously bad ones). Thank you for everything JMF. You will be missed 🙁

  • We will miss the wisdom and delivery of your musical rhythm. You captured your own distinctive beat and we so eagerly felt and received it.

    Gloria James

  • Arlene,
    I am so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. My thoughts & prayers are with you & your family

  • Arlene,
    My heart goes out to you. I remember what a wonderful husband Michael was because we talked about it.
    I loved his voice and witty conversation.
    Know that my thoughts are with you.

  • Michael was a dear, dear friend and a much-loved curmudgeon in our lives. It was always a delight to share a meal or a concert with him, and I so much enjoyed our chance meetings in the music building or out on Main Street. I loved teasing with him, and will miss him greatly.
    Arlene, I am so glad you found each other. We loved getting to know you and seeing how happy you made each other. Much love!

  • Dear Arlene and Foster family members,

    I had the very great pleasure of joining Michael on several occasions when I was the Guest of Michael’s Fine Tuning program. We were able to share a number of experiences during the music, and I always appreciated not only Michael’s considerable knowledge of music history but his humor and charm as well. While his taste in music was a bit more modern than my old-fashioned approach, we still got along just fine. And we also shared a common educational experience in music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    I knew Michael was seriously ill when I telephoned him some months ago just to say Hello. Yet even then, his humor and calm demeanor had not left him.

    Michael’s voice was indeed the voice of the University of Delaware, a beautiful voice, measured, comforting, and intelligent. That voice is now silent to the world, but I still hear it and shall always remember it.

  • I have nothing but the finest memories of Michael from my years at UD. He will be sorely missed by the music community at Newark. Thank you for sharing him with us

  • Dear Arlene,
    We were so sorry to hear of Michael’s passing. We knew him through his wonderful History of Jazz courses at Osher Lifelong learning. Our deepest sympathies to you and yours. What a wonderful teacher and delightful human being.

  • From the day Michael arrived in Newark through his last WVUD radio program Michael brought incredible musical riches to the community. Students, both in Newark and at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Wilmington were greatly enriched by his encyclopedic knowledge of classical music and Jazz, especially “all things Ellington”. His southern gentility exterior masked a sometimes caustic wit as he did not “suffer fools gladly”. He will be missed by all who knew him and shared his love for music and musicians. Farewell my friend, and keep that pile of records spinning!

  • I once had the pleasure of speaking on the phone with Michael when I called in to his show with some question or comment. He was just as lovely off-air, as he was as announcer. He had the most elegant voice. We, the radio listening community are poorer for his passing. One can only imagine the deprivation his loved ones must feel. I pray that warm memories will comfort you going forward.

  • It is a shock to lose Michael Foster at such a young age. For many years he was always very kind and supportive to the area musicians, including myself. He appreciated my singing/guitar playing, jazzy songs and arrangements, and invited me to appear many times on his show in the late 80s/early 90s, for a live performance. Often the well-known bassoonist Chuck Holdeman would be with me, since we had a long-running duo at that time. These shows really helped elevate my reputation and career in the Delaware Valley. I am grateful for his help, and the entire jazz community will sorely miss his love, knowledge and support of our music.

  • Mr Foster was famous on the WVUD campus radio station for his mellow, cultivated speaking voice. A great attribute indeed; going beyond that, his music knowledge was fantastic, and his friendship was generous. He is sorely missed. I have many fine memories…! His contributions to the local music scene, classical and jazz in particular, made Delaware a better place to live, and to enjoy culture.

  • Thinking of Arlene and your family. Sending prayers and love.