Colleagues from teaching, retail and journalism, along with family and friends gathered Wednesday evening at FIT to honor the life of Dorothy Foster, a longtime beauty industry veteran.
Foster died on July 18, less than a week after her 74th birthday, in La Grange, Ill., where she’d moved later in life to be closer to family. Attendees at her FIT memorial service, where she taught for many years, remembered her for her razor-sharp wit and sense of humor, discerning eye and tell-it-like-it-is attitude.
Despite her penchant for quick-witted “Dottie-isms,” Foster was known for a perennially optimistic approach to her endeavors — perhaps due to the immense satisfaction she gleaned from her career.
“She was the personification of charm, caring, kindness and charisma,” said Annette Green, president emeritus of the Fragrance Foundation and a longtime friend of Foster’s. “Her positive charm made such a difference in so many of the lives she touched.”
Foster served as the head of the cosmetics department at J.C. Penney, and went on to become the president of DCF International Ltd., a consulting firm for fragrance and cosmetics, and she also served as a retail reporter for The Informationist.
“She felt very fortunate to combine what she loved in her career, [to use] her creative and artistic talent,” said Pat Grundke, her sister.
When it came to journalism, Foster took a no-nonsense approach, asking hard-hitting questions. “She was intent on telling an honest story — no BS,” said Allan Mottus, a beauty industry management consultant who runs The Informationist.
Her students remembered her as utterly devoted to her craft and to them.
“She really understood that education comes from experience,” said Leslie Harris, the global general manager of SkinCeuticals at L’Oréal USA and a former student of Foster’s.
Stephan Kalian, professor and chairperson of FIT’s cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management masters program, recalled Foster as a force, and noted her dedication to the program long after she’d retired from teaching and had moved to the Poconos. A Friday phone call to discuss the woes of academic bureaucracy and school affairs was routine for the pair, and typically sprinkled with “Dottie-isms.” “One of my favorites that I heard every Friday at the end of those phone calls, when I was going on and on about the things I was wrestling with…every call would end with ‘My dear, in time, all will be revealed,” Kalian said. “It was like she saying, ‘Young man, don’t worry, it will all be fine.’”