David L. Foster, 88, a widely respected voice in the legal community, died peacefully in his sleep on Christmas Eve Day, 2021. One of the country’s leading antitrust litigators, his preeminent client roster included insurance companies, top industrials, and package goods companies, and a successful track record of large complex jury trials representing Loral Space Systems, Burlington Industries, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Marsh, Johns Manville, and many others.
Born December 13, 1933, in Des Moines, Iowa, he was the son of Carl Dewitt and Dorothy Jo (Bell) Foster. He distinguished himself at an early age as an Eagle Scout, gifted student, and prolific musician, playing four instruments and studying voice.
Known as the “Best Kept Secret” at the University of Iowa for his exploits on the nationally ranked UI Debate Team, he graduated in 1954, Phi Beta Kappa. In 1957, he graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law, where he was editor of the Iowa Law Review and honored member of the esteemed Order of the Coif. He always kept these years close, a proud Iowan and Hawkeye his entire life.
Mr. Foster started his legal career as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York. In 1963, he was recruited to the then headquarters of Jones Day in Cleveland, joining a renowned class of talent, including the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a fellow tenor and lifelong friend.
In 1972, he returned to New York, as a partner in the international law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher and spent the balance of his career as the firm’s senior antitrust partner and head of litigation.
Deeply respected by his peers, he contributed numerous chapters to books, and articles to legal journals, and served as a lecturer at major universities.
A lifelong aviation aficionado, he obtained his pilot’s license as a teen-ager and flew well into his 60s. Of the many airplanes he owned, his favorite was a Pitts Special, an open cockpit, aerobatic biplane. He took great pleasure in flying upside down and other stomach-dropping maneuvers.
A devoted father and grandfather, he often piloted adventures — fly fishing in Canada, conch diving in the Bahamian Out Islands, riding waves anywhere he could find them, and skiing the Rockies. Every outdoor adventure would also include cigars, red wine, and, of course, a song.
David Foster will be remembered for his brilliant mind and wry sense of humor; he would frequently quip, “I speak better on my feet.” His humble disposition and his great success in the courtroom were often credited to his Midwestern roots.
Mr. Foster is survived by his wife of 43 years, Kathleen (Walsh), and by his daughters, Gwen Foster Reed (Thomas) and Cynthia Foster Curry (Bernard), from his first marriage, and by his son, John Wickersham (Kristin), from his second marriage. He was predeceased by his first wife Marilyn, and his son David. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren: Thomas and Cynthia Reed, Bo, Jack, and Jesse Curry, David and Charlie Foster, and Miriam and Eileen Foster; four great-grandchildren; and his sister, Susan Boswell (Thomas).
A Celebration of Life will be held for Mr. Foster, a longtime resident of Premium Point in New Rochelle, at Westchester Country Club on Friday, May 13 at 11 a.m. The family welcomes all friends.