Murphy James “Mike” Foster, Louisiana’s 53rd governor, died Sunday following an illness.
Foster, who served as governor from 1996 to 2004, died at his home in Franklin, the family confirmed Sunday evening. The 90-year-old had spent the previous week in hospice care.
Condolences poured in from across the state, including the statements below:
Gov. John Bel Edwards:
“A veteran, a businessman and a sportsman, Gov. Mike Foster was a true Louisianan who served his country, his state and his community with honor throughout his life. As governor, one of his most lasting legacies is in education, especially his support for the creation of the TOPS program, which, more than 20 years later, still helps thousands of Louisiana students attend colleges and universities and achieve their goals. Gov. Foster recognized that there is no greater gift to our state than a bright future for its young people and that not everyone has to travel the same path to achieve a quality education. That’s why he created the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
“Gov. Foster also worked hard to protect and restore Louisiana’s coastline and moved to dedicate federal funding to this purpose, so that future Louisianans could enjoy the Sportsman’s Paradise he so loved.
“Donna and I are praying for Gov. Foster’s family, and especially his wife Alice, during this difficult time and hope the people of our state will join their prayers to ours. I have ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-staff in honor of his memory.”
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.):
“Mike Foster worked hard to create jobs and improve education across Louisiana. I had the privilege of serving in his administration and seeing firsthand why so many Louisianians admire him. Becky and I are incredibly sad about his passing, but we are so happy to have known him. We are praying for Alice and the entire Foster family.”
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA):
“The death of former Gov. Mike Foster could be seen as one more tragedy of 2020. But his life and service are to be celebrated. He invested heavily in higher education, greatly expanded the community college system, and worked to make Louisiana an opportunity state. He will be missed, but his achievements endure,” Dr. Cassidy said.
Attorney General Jeff Landry:
“It is with great sadness that I express my condolences to Mrs. Alice, Murphy, and Ramelle. Governor Foster was a wonderful family man, dedicated public servant, and loyal friend. Mike valiantly served our Nation in the Air Force and honorably led our State as a Senator and as the Governor. While Governor Foster may be remembered by most as a conservative manager who steered Louisiana into a prosperous period, I will always cherish Mike as a trusted confidant whose guidance was invaluable. His honorable legacy will live forever; and I hope the citizens of Louisiana will join Sharon and me in prayer for the entire Foster family.”
Former Governor Bobby Jindal:
“Mike Foster was a good personal friend and mentor to me, and he was a great leader who cared deeply about Louisiana. Governor Foster proved to Louisiana we could have honest, competent government. While he was a man of deep personal conviction, he cared more about people than ideology. His creation of the state’s modern community and technical college system will benefit generations of students for years to come. Supriya and I were fortunate to have known him for so many years, and we keep Alice and the entire family in our prayers.”
Statement from LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack:
“Throughout his entire career in public service, Mike Foster was a tireless champion for Louisiana’s working families and job creators. In an era when most business owners stayed out of politics, he brought his own unique brand of effective leadership from the private sector to the State Capitol. Louisiana is a better place to both raise a family and start a business today because of the reforms that Governor Foster passed into law. The thoughts and prayers of our entire organization and all of LABI’s members are with his wife, Alice, and their family during this time.”
Richard Zuschlag – Acadian Companies Chairman & CEO
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Governor Mike Foster. Governor Foster was a bold and fearless public servant. He was an accomplished businessman and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and served as a state senator before serving two terms as Louisiana’s governor.
As governor, Mike was an advocate for EMS and was dedicated to improving the lives of his fellow citizens. His tenure as governor will be remembered for his efforts to improve public education, including the creation of the TOPS program for higher education and the formation of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Our National EMS Academy partners with that system to educate emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
He also worked to stabilize the state’s finances and led capital investment efforts in higher education campuses across the state and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, among many others.
Elaine and I offer our condolences to Alice and the rest of the Foster family.“