Francis Firman Foster – 1997 Inductee

For several decades during the twentieth century Osborne County was a mecca for prospective buyers of registered greyhounds. Several county residents became nationally known as breeders of champion racing greyhounds and one of the earliest was Francis Firman Foster. Francis, one of the four children of William and Margaret (Solbach) Foster, was born October 3, 1905, at Strawberry, Washington County, Kansas. Around 1910 the Foster family moved to a farm on the Penn-Corinth Township line in Osborne County, Kansas, and except for a year when the family lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Francis lived on this farm his entire life. He attended school in Osborne and graduated from Osborne High School in 1924.

While still in school Francis was introduced to coyote hunting, a popular occupation among farmers in the area. He became interested in raising dogs to hunt with and in 1928 he brought his first registered greyhounds. Hunting coyotes actually served as a fair supplemental income to farming. In 1938 he received $6.50 per coyote pelt. Promising greyhounds he took to coursing meets in Abilene and elsewhere where they were shown to prospective buyers, who after purchasing the potential racing champions raced them in Florida and other regions of the country. Francis soon earned a wide reputation as a breeder of top racing greyhounds–a standing he maintained for sixty years. He ended all the names of his registered greyhounds with the doubled letter “F” so that he and his family could always follow his dogs’ careers. Dogs were his life and his best friends.

On January 18, 1927, Francis married Matilda (Tillie) Hageman, a childhood friend in Osborne. They were the parents of six children–Ilah, Imogene, Farrel, Raymond, Iris, and Sandra. Francis was a very modest and “no-frills kind of guy,” never letting anything bother him. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and rarely missed any sporting event in the area. A strong supporter of Osborne High School sports, he received a Distinguished Service Award from his alma mater for sixty-three years of patronage to high school athletics in general. Francis also backed and worked with the local American Legion baseball program, an interest that brought him both tragedy and satisfaction. Once while helping to install a new backdrop at the Legion ball field in Osborne he suffered a compound fracture in an accident that resulted in the loss of a leg. But he did not let that prevent his enthusiasm for the game and in his later years he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the national headquarters of the American Legion for his lifetime of contribution to the Legion baseball program.

Francis was a member of the National Greyhound Association for over fifty years and in 1981 he became the fifty-first inductee to the Pioneer Section of the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, Kansas, in recognition for his pioneering achievements in the furthering of the sport of greyhound racing. In 1988 he retired from raising greyhounds and spent his remaining years farming and enjoying time with his family. Francis Foster died on May 16, 1995, in Osborne and he was buried in the Foster family plot in the Osborne Cemetery.

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