Louis F. Forster, 85, teacher, volunteer

May 11, 2006|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN | FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN,SUN REPORTER

Louis Fehsenfeld Forster, a retired teacher and Johns Hopkins University volunteer, died of complications from a stroke Saturday at Keswick Multi-Care Center. He was 85.

Mr. Forster was born in Baltimore, the son of German immigrants, and raised near Patterson Park. He was a 1937 graduate of City College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1941 and a master's in English in 1948 - both from Hopkins.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy, attained the rank of lieutenant and served as a communications officer in Hawaii.

Recalling his student years at Hopkins, when students dressed in jackets and ties and the university was more of an "ivory tower," Mr. Forster told The Sun in 1991 that it had become "larger and more involved with the outside world. It mirrors the world. and that's a good thing."

Regarding changing mores on the Homewood campus, Mr. Forster said in the interview: "When I was a student, we were much more circumspect - especially in mixed company. We would never, as the expression goes, `Let it all hang out.' "

During a 29-year teaching career, Mr. Forster was on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory and what is now Baltimore City Community College, where he began teaching in 1948 and later was chairman of the English department. He retired in 1976.

In 1978, Mr. Forster began a 28-year stint as a volunteer in the Johns Hopkins alumni relations office.

A generous financial contributor to Hopkins, Mr. Forster received the Heritage Award from the alumni association in 1987, and a room in Alumni House was named for him in 1993.

"He came in four days a week, helped with editing, mailings, the senior alumni program, and handled other duties. He was willing to handle any task and was devoted to Hopkins," said Marguerite Jones, senior associate director of alumni relations for Hopkins.

In his nearly three decades in the alumni office, Mr. Forster made and kept scores of friends, many of whom will be coming from across the country for his funeral, Ms. Jones said. "For younger students, he was like their grandfather, and they took to him. He was a very likable soul."

Mr. Forster enjoyed classical music and attended the Shriver Hall Concert Series and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts.

"He loved Mozart - his favorite composer - and visited Vienna 16 times to pay homage to him," Ms. Jones said.

Friends said he owned a TV but never turned it on - preferring to indulge his passion for the works of Victorian-era novelist Anthony Trollope, William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth.

"He had read all of the Trollope novels in the Eisenhower Library," Ms. Jones said yesterday. "He always described himself as a `man of the Muses' who should have been born in the 19th century."

Mr. Forster was also a fan of Marconi's restaurant and enjoyed shopping at Lexington Market.

He was a member of Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, 2200 St. Paul St., where services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

He has no survivors.

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