Marie Foster, a longtime visitor and then resident of Montauk, died on Friday at Calvary Palliative Care in the Bronx three weeks after suffering a debilitating heart attack. She was 92.
Ms. Foster was born on April 9 on City Island in the Bronx to Edward Haulton and the former Mae Bartels.
She grew up on Mineford Avenue on City Island, where the locals were called Clam Diggers, a moniker she was proud of.
As a youngster, she fell in love with dance. Self-taught, she danced professionally with performers like Milton Berle, Judy Garland, Burt Lancaster, Doris Day, and Red Buttons, traveling to perform in vaudeville acts and on cruise ships.
She dated Mr. Lancaster in 1943 until she met her future husband, Robert Foster, and, according to her daughter Janis Hewitt, “that was the end of that.” She married Mr. Foster later that year and had four children with him. The marriage ended in divorce.
In addition to Ms. Hewitt, who lives in Montauk, she is survived by her children Robert Foster Jr. of Bronxville, N.Y., Dennis Foster of Commack, and June Foster-Serin, also of Montauk. She also leaves 11 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, and a sister, Jean Foster of Pelham Bay in the Bronx.
While Ms. Foster retired from professional dance to raise her family, she never stopped dancing and loved to teach others. She ran the City Island School of Dance, a rambling studio, and when that closed, she taught children from her Beach Street house. Every year, she would hold a recital, with her mother playing the piano. It was one of the high points of the year for her, Ms. Hewitt said.
Ms. Foster’s grandchildren described her as “glamorous,” “classy,” “cool,” “loving,” and “vivacious.”
She always tried to look her best and “never left the house without her red lipstick and sunglasses,” her family said. In her eulogy, her grandson David Foster said that she was the only person he had ever seen wearing shades with her hospital gown.
She lived most of her life on City Island, but visited her daughters in Montauk for many years and eventually moved to the hamlet full time. In Montauk, she enjoyed attending the town’s senior nutrition center when it was located at the Montauk Community Church and at the Montauk Playhouse Community Center. She gave exercise classes for the senior citizens at the center as well.
“She enjoyed thrifting and yard sales,” Ms. Hewitt remembered. “Her greatest love was to be with her kids. She lived a good, long life.”
The family received visitors at McGrath and Sons Funeral Home in Bronxville on Monday. A funeral Mass was said at St. Mary Star of the Sea in City Island, on Tuesday, with burial following at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
The family has suggested donations to Calvary Hospital, 1740 Eastchester Road, Bronx 10461 or the Montauk Playhouse Community Center, P.O. Box 1612, Montauk 11954.