Obituary, Phyllis Cushman Foster

Phyllis Cushman Foster, 97, passed away peacefully at Geer Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canaan, CT on March 31, 2023.

A vibrant and beloved presence in Kent, CT, Phyllis lived at Templeton Farms from the age of 65, having first served as program director for the affordable housing facility.

Phyllis was educated at Bridgewater State Teachers College, Massachusetts School of Art, and UConn where she received a BA later in life. Among her many jobs, Phyllis was a recreation director at a women’s prison, an art teacher, a certified graphologist, a nursery school director, a social worker at CT Division of Youth and Family Services and a caregiver to elders.

Active in the women’s movement in the 1970s, Phyllis started a women’s consciousness raising group, which she hosted in her home. She was a champion for human rights and equality for all, and used her voice to advocate for those marginalized or disenfranchised. She tutored women at a female detention center, was passionate about LGBT issues, and helped out during the AIDS crisis.

Phyllis enjoyed the outdoors and walked three miles a day well into her seventies. She loved the ocean, which reminded her of her treasured childhood home in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Always singing or humming, Phyllis was a member of the choir at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kent. She served on the Kent Memorial Library Book Selection and Acquisition Committee, the Kent Social Services Task Force, and the Night of the 1,000 Pies benefits that raised funds for Kent Affordable Housing.

After losing two husbands to the polio epidemic of the 1950s, Phyllis raised her three children on her own. Though she had experienced tremendous loss and personal tragedy, she always had a listening ear for those who might need it, offering her wisdom, empathy, and a wonderful sense of humor. She loved to laugh, particularly at her own expense.

Foster is pre-deceased by her first husband Richard Andrews and second husband Walter Foster. She is survived by children Joel Foster of Wassaic, NY, Jennifer Andrews of Cornwall, and John Foster of Olympia, Washington, and daughters-in-law Tonia Shoumatoff Foster and Dana Squires. She leaves five grandchildren, Matthew Wolf of Barkhamsted, Stefan Wolf of Sharon, Zoë Foster of Thomaston, Maine and Kajaat and Rama Squires of Olympia. Her three great-grandchildren, Ida and Thea Foster and Celeste Wolf, brought her tremendous joy. Countless friends and neighbors enriched Phyllis’s life and brightened her days.

Foster was loved by many and will be dearly missed. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Kent Affordable Housing, P.O.Box 265, Kent, CT 06757. To send the family a condolence, please visit

Author: Harlem Valley News