Claire Marie Foster of St. Thomas passed away peacefully on May 31. She was born on July 7, 1929, in New Jersey, to parents Clara and Leon Cybulski. Raised in Collingswood, N.J., she attended St. John grammar school and Camden Catholic High School. From childhood, she yearned to travel, so she started her adventure with American Airlines, managing a VIP ticket office on Wall Street in New York City. She moved on to McGettigan’s Travel Bureau in Philadelphia where she was offered the chance to travel more extensively.
Soon she was invited to the opening of the elegant Virgin Isle Hotel on St. Thomas, where she immediately fell in love with the island. While staying at Galleon House on Government Hill, she became friendly with the owners and shared with them how she had always dreamed of running a guesthouse. They told her to ask again in 15 years. Two years and two trips later she was offered a job at Travel Services on Main Street, where she started in January 1961, and soon became a manager. Shortly thereafter she met Englishman John Foster, who was the navigator of the 75-foot yacht Eroica, which he sailed from England to St. Thomas. That summer her dream came true, when she had the chance to run Galleon House.
The following year, after she and John were married at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, they bought the guesthouse, which Claire lovingly managed. The adventure continued when they had their two children, Johnny and Lilibet, which inspired her involvement in the founding of Montessori School. Later, she joined her husband’s firm, John Foster Real Estate. A lifelong and devout Catholic, she served as lector, eucharistic minister, the leader of many prayer groups and pilgrimages, and was presented to John Paul II in Rome, Italy. She was a longtime member of The Papal Foundation, West Indian Franciscans, Inner Wheel Club, Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, where she also served as secretary for over 20 years, and she was instrumental in the founding of the Knights of Malta Virgin Islands Area and St. Thomas Yacht Club.
She loved their residence in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where she relocated after hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged their home on St. Thomas. She worshipped at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola until medical problems intervened, which also prevented her from returning to her treasured home on St. Thomas.
Claire dearly loved and cherished her family and is survived by her beloved husband of 58 years, John; son, John P., Shane (wife), Olivia, Sophia, Miles, Parry, Sheridan (children); daughter, Lilibet, Charles Pessler (husband), Tristan John (son); sister, Janet Christensen; sister, Bonnie Ostroff, Joel (husband); and many more family members and friends.
A memorial service to be held on St. Thomas will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 8i Estate Elizabeth, St. Thomas, VI 00802.
For information about the service, please feel free to contact the family at email@example.com.