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Missionary remembered for going the extra mile

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Known by friends and colleagues for her willingness to “go the extra mile,” missionary Shelley Foster died Dec. 13 in Garland, Texas, from complications with a bone marrow transplant. She was 62.

Foster, who had served with the International Mission Board since 2001, provided member care to IMB personnel serving throughout Asia. Based in Seoul, South Korea, she and her husband Bill had returned to the U.S. earlier this year after Foster was diagnosed with leukemia.

Simon Balhoff,* who served with Foster in Seoul, described her as “the kind of person you like to spend time with.” Foster was also a seasoned professional who brought years of clinical experience to her role with IMB, he said.

“In Shelley’s presence it was easy to be yourself,” Balhoff said. “She was transparent, which caused others to feel accepted and safe. She remembered details about [our] lives and asked questions out of sincere interest … [People] naturally felt drawn to Shelley.”

Penelope Stokes,* a longtime friend and coworker, said, “Shelley will be most remembered for her caring spirit and willingness to go beyond what was required. When she saw a need among her colleagues, she willingly did what she could to meet the need.”

Both through her friendship and her member-care ministry, Foster encouraged missionaries serving in difficult places and helped equip them for successful living overseas.

“She went the extra mile to help them live a healthy and productive life,” Stokes said.

Balhoff shared one example of Foster’s willingness to “go the extra mile” at his son’s high school graduation party on a sweltering June day in Seoul.

“We were running behind in our preparations,” Balhoff said. “While we were at the graduation ceremony, Bill and Shelley grilled everything we planned to grill. It was hot as blazes outside. When we came home, everything was ready for the party. I’ll never forget it.”

Foster’s selflessness grew from her obedience to God and her love for other people, said Sonia Malley,* who also worked with Foster.

“She wanted to live each day as if it were her last,” Malley said. “She wanted to make a difference with the days God had given her.”

Foster is survived by her husband Bill; two daughters, Elizabeth Zoucha and Christine Jarvis; seven grandchildren: Tyler William Zoucha, Nathaniel Robert Zoucha, Aretta Jo Zoucha, Alexis Leanza French, Brenna Joelynn French, Reina Marie Jarvis and Trinitie Elyse Jarvis; her mother, Inez Eileen Hill; two brothers, Sandy Hill and Pete Hill; and one sister, Crystal Weikart.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Dec. 22, at the Linn Hert Geib Funeral Home in New Philadelphia, Ohio. A celebration of Foster’s life will also be held on the beach at New Smyrna Beach, Fla., at a later date.

*Names changed.

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  • Tess Rivers