Log In

Reset Password

Foster family cherishes Bermuda roots

Onion roots: The Fosters return to Bermuda numerous times during the year and love the Island

The Rev Thomas Wendell Foster is a name that will ring bells among many in Bermuda, especially when they recall the days when, as a dynamic young man he began a career that carried him to the pinnacle of power in the local AME Church.

Firstly he was pastor of Vernon Temple AME Church in Southampton. Later, as pastor of the cathedral of African Methodism in Bermuda, St Paul AME Church, Hamilton he became Presiding Elder of the Bermuda District.

As a budding reporter for the now defunct Bermuda Recorder newspaper, yours truly was just a stone’s throw away from this pertinent articulator of the day’s events.

How he dealt with the issues of the times is a matter of public record.

The one aspect of his career that stands out in my mind at this time is how he captured the heart of one of the country’s most talented young women, Helen Somersall (or maybe it was the other way around).

Their subsequent marriage was the social event of the time.

It was a great pleasure seeing the Fosters returning to Bermuda for the Cup Match holiday, true to their “onion roots”. Helen with a head of “snow” attempting to overshadow her million-dollar smile was no less beauteous, being the mother of two charming daughters, Rebekah Foster and Helen Diane Foster-McKay, both of whom have Bermuda status.

Rev Foster, now 91, is still active in the ministry. He is Senior Pastor of Christ Church, United Church of Christ, in the Bronx, New York. He provides guidance and advice to young people involved in local politics and the ministry. His ever-present helpmate, Helen, assists with the daily operations of the church, and is involved in the Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Mrs Foster and Mrs Foster-McKay flew to Bermuda to attend the 25th Anniversary festivities of Sigma Xi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Helen Diane Foster–McKay is now the Commissioner for the New York State Division of Human Rights. She was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and confirmed by the New York State Senate. She served 12 years as a member of the New York City Council having followed in her father, Rev Foster’s footsteps. He served in the New York City Council for 24 years. It was acknowledged at the end of Mrs Foster-McKay’s tenure that a Foster served in public service in Bronx County for close to 40 years.

In her current capacity as Commissioner, Mrs Foster-McKay is responsible for enforcing New York State’s Human Rights law which is the oldest such law in the United States. Since joining the division in 2013, case backlog has been eliminated and new innovative education campaigns have been launched under her leadership.

Rebekah Foster, the eldest daughter, is finishing a European tour with award-winning artist, Marcus Miller. Mr Miller is one of Ms Foster’s clients at her sound production and tour managing company. This is the first time in over 20 years that she will miss the Cup Match Holiday of which she is not too happy.

The Fosters return to Bermuda numerous times during the year and love the island. Their love of Bermuda has been passed onto the next generation. In May 2011, Rev and Mrs Foster welcomed their first grandchild, a girl, Nia Amani McKay. She has been to Bermuda over ten times in her four years. Mrs Foster-McKay’s husband, Eric and stepdaughter, Aminah, also have a love for the Island.