Over the years, many residents have shared their passion for the City with me. There is a great value put upon the length of time someone has resided inside our City limits. This is born out of a communal respect for the quality of life that our community offers as well as the individuals who played a part in creating it. I shall dedicate my blog to speak of one such individual.
A person is often judged by his actions and his impact. It has been said that the full measure of a man cannot be taken until his journey is complete. At the end of that journey some will leave a legacy of honor and character that transcends the average person. I have had the pleasure and honor to come to know such a man. Sam Felser left an indelible mark on me, this community, and everyone who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. While our friendship was shorter than most of his others, Sam provided me with a wealth of wisdom and encouragement and taught me what its’ means to be part of our wonderful community. While there are many that might be better to write about Sam, I humbly do so herein to honor the man, his persistence, his character, and more importantly his steadfast passion for all things Foster City. I have included two perspectives of two of his closest friends so that the story may be told well and complete.
My family and I came to Foster City from New York on June 18, 1991. I was a senior partner at a firm in NY but decided to leave the Big Apple to give the children a better start in life. About one month after arriving, I was looking through the local Foster City Islander newspaper when a marketing idea hit to me jump start my services here on the West Coast.
I walked into the Islander and was greeted by Marge. I said “hello” in my best NY dialect and she busted out laughing and called for her Father to come to the counter. It was there that I met Sam Felser. I have said this throughout my 20 years in Foster City and I will say it here; Sam was the “real deal” He was everything you could ever ask for in a person; sociable, funny, had great stories and loved his family tremendously. He was my second friend since moving to Foster City.
On occasion Sam would come over to my home and we would chat over tea or some other drink until I introduced him to Dunkin Donuts coffee. So when he came by I would put up a pot and we would discuss the issues of the day, the issues affecting Foster City and life in general. Needless to say we certainly laughed a lot.
He loved his military life and talked about it often. For those of you who have gone to the Islander office, you will see pictures of a much younger Sam as well as airplanes on the walls. A few years back, he was inducted into the Foster City Wall of Fame; a deserving accomplishment after so many years of dedication to this city.
There is so much more that can be said but not enough space. Sam, we will see each other again and enjoy our talks and of course, another cup of “Dunkin”
Sam and Jan Felser started a Foster City newspaper early in the beginnings of the community. Foster City, at that time, was an unincorporated community, with all decisions made by San Mateo County and Foster Enterprises, the developer of Foster City as authorized by the Estero Act, a state action on behalf of the development. Generally, the Estero Act authorize the use of tax on the community for development of the community.
Sam wrote all the articles in the Islander and his wife Jan managed the publication. There was constant news developed around this new community; on one side, the community growing due to low cost of housing compared to other cities with complete city services, support and costs, and little or no say on the community growth and needs by the new residents; on the other side, the new residents taking on the responsibilities by participation on issues of the new community. These two directions led to positive and negative positions for the residents, all covered by Sam in his many articles. The positives: residents forming community groups, clubs and organizations, the backbone of any community, which supported public education, community activities such as the July 4th celebration, youth sports groups, and the Homeowner's Association; the negatives, the constant conflicts between community needs and those not provided by the development and county government.
Sam took the position in support of the residents. Time and again, issue after issue, he wrote of the needs of the people and the unfulfilled basic requirements of the residents. When residents were finally appointed to the Estero Board of Directors, this minority representation was outvoted on many issues of residents' concerns. That tumultuous period led to the homeowners petition to incorporate the community successfully. Then, the period of becoming a city, direction of development, city regulations, and the personal views of city government. This was the period in which interpretation of city finances, development, management, and all the personal attitude which led to many conflicts. The most difficult issues of that period was the question of bonded indebtedness, financial management, and, related, the recall of councilmen.
Sam wrote on all of these issues, and as a result of the need for personal views, was subject to support and attacks. He successfully defended his Islander and it survived for these many years.