Growing up in Leesville at a time when everyone knew one another had its rewards. If you were caught doing something wrong, the adult who caught you, automatically had the right to punish you and then tell your parents who in turn did the same thing.
As a result, you thought twice before doing something wrong.
With that type of up-bringing, Foster T. Thomas finished high school and joined the Army. After completing his military duty with honors, he enrolled at Grambling State University. While there, he found the love of his life, Patricia Ann Ruffin. Upon graduation, he asked her to be his wife and she accepted.
They will be celebrating their sixty-fourth wedding anniversary this December. Foster and Pat have two beautiful daughters. Diann, the oldest, is a Certified Public Accountant working as an executive for IBM, and Cordelia is a retired Educator in administration.
She loved it so much until she went back to work as an administrator in the Texas School System.
Foster moved back to Leesville where he began teaching at Vernon High School in 1958 and was named Head football coach. His wife. Pat, taught at Vernon Elementary School. Coach Thomas took the position as Coach very seriously because he saw in it a way to build self- confidence, character, pride and integrity in the students at Vernon High School. Coach Thomas started off slowly convincing just a few students to play football.
This did not discourage him as he continued to recruit players until he eventually had almost every male student from 9th through 12th grade on the Mighty Lions team.
Foster and the Lions won three football championships and was heading for a fourth when Vernon High School and Leesville High School were integrated and would merge into one high school in the fall of 1968. Before the fourth championship game could be played, the Mighty Vernon Lions were no more.
This was at the early stages of integration, and Foster was named assistant principal to use his teamwork attitude and assist with a smooth transition.
Because of dedicated teachers and because of the Fort Polk Military Base, a number of diverse students from all over the world who were already accustomed to integrated schools, made the transition from two separate high schools to one high school less troublesome than experienced in many other parishes and states.
We experienced some bumps along the way, but we became one high school, the Leesville High School Wampus Cats.
While coaching at Leesville High and serving as Assistant Principal from 1972-1980, he enrolled at McNeese State University where he earned his Masters' Degree in Administration-Supervision.
Because of his military and coaching background, Foster T. Thomas was a strict disciplinarian. He could not accept a student not being the very best that he/she could be.
As a result, Foster was a mentor to many young boys and girls. He exemplified honesty, integrity, truthfulness, kindness, friendliness, hard work and helpfulness.
He served as Assistant Principal and Coach for 23 years and was promoted as supervisor of Instruction by the Vernon Parish School Board.
He was later promoted as Director of Special Services for the Vernon Parish Schools in 1980 where he served until retirement in 1991. Foster "Coach" Thomas served over thirty-four years educating and guiding the students of Vernon Parish.
Coach Thomas is a product of Vernon Parish, and he took pride in returning home to serve his community. He was active in church and civic affairs. He was a Deacon of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Chairman of Leesville Fire and Police Civil Service Board, life-time member of Louisiana High School Athletic Association, and was a Veteran of the United States Army.
Foster Thomas currently lives in North Richland Hills, Texas. He thinks fondly about fishing, golfing and the good old days that he spent in Vernon Parish.
He enjoys and spends time with his wife, Patricia; his daughters, Cassandra Dian Wilson and her husband Chauncy, and Cordelia Thompson and her husband Darrell.
He has Three Grand Children and six Great Grand Children. Foster is a member of the Beth Eden Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.