Cover photo for Gary  N.  Foster's Obituary
Gary  N.  Foster Profile Photo
1945 Gary 2023

Gary N. Foster

August 21, 1945 — November 11, 2023

On November 11, 2023, Gary passed away peacefully surrounded by his children. Gary was born on August 21, 1945 in Northcote, Minnesota to Nick and Mabel Foster. Northcote is near the Canadian border and Gary spent the winters of his childhood skating and playing hockey. It was so cold that the rivers would freeze over, allowing Gary and his friends to skate for hours. On one of those skates, Gary hit a soft patch of ice under a bridge and fell in. Luckily his friends did not get too far ahead before they noticed he was missing and pulled him out. While he experienced hardships in his childhood, Gary recalled the wonder of the Northern Lights and so much snow, it went past the top of the front door.

At 17, Gary left Northcote to make a life for himself. In 1965, Gary knew he would be drafted for Vietnam as he was not in a position to attend college. He took the initiative and enlisted in the Air Force, which changed the course of his life. Gary was trained as a fighter jet mechanic and received his A&P license. Instead of going to Vietnam, he was fortunate to be stationed at the Bitburg Air Base in Germany, where he stayed until his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1969.

While there, Gary took every chance to travel, volunteering for trips to North Africa and Bodo, Norway in the Artic Circle. He also enjoyed going out with his Air Force buddies, and he met his devoted wife Jeanny at a discotheque in Echternach, Luxembourg, just over the border from Germany.

They married on June 21, 1969 in Aurora, Illinois. From there, Gary worked in Saudi Arabia as part of the Peace Hawk program and trained the Royal Saudi Air Force how to maintain and repair F-5 fighter jets. He and Jeanny travelled all over Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia for the next 9 years. Gary’s most memorable trips included a visit to the riviera in Beirut and the palaces of Isfahan, Iran. In 1978, Gary and Jeanny moved to Torrance, California, where their daughter Anne-Marie was born.

It was always Gary’s dream to have his own business and be his own boss. As anyone who tried to “boss” Gary over the years found out, this was for the best. Jeanny and Gary relocated to Rockford, Illinois in 1980 when they purchased CherryVale Tire & Auto. Their son Nick was born in 1981.

For the next 34 years, Gary operated his shop with integrity, always available to offer his expertise to his customers. Around town, he was approached by customers thanking him for a job well done, fair treatment and gratitude that they had a car mechanic that they could trust and rely on. Though he rarely talked about it, over the years Gary helped customers who couldn’t afford to have their cars fixed or employees that struggled with family and addiction issues. His compassion was understated but constant; he was someone that everyone could count on for help.

Gary’s passion was restoring classic cars. He was a Mopar man and meticulously restored many cars over the years. He kept his cars at the “shed” where he would work for hours in quiet, ensuring each project was perfect. Gary always had an eye for beauty and took thousands of slides during his travels. As his world grew smaller during the last few years, he never failed to point out a beautiful sunset or full moon, a bird at the feeder, or the light illuminating a flower in his yard.

Gary is survived by his daughter Anne-Marie (Stephen), son Nick (Ellen), special nephew Tom (Julie), sister Louise and many nieces and nephews. Gary is predeceased by Jeanny, his wife of 53 years, parents Nick and Mabel, and sisters Verna and Gladys. Gary’s family takes comfort in the hope he is reunited with Jeanny, as the time since her death was very difficult for him. A special thanks to the staff of Anam Glen and Northern Illinois Hospice who took such loving care of Gary over these last months.

A memorial visitation will take place on Monday, November 27, 2023 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church, 4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL, 61107. A funeral Mass will follow at 11:00 a.m. Gary’s final resting place will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Winnebago, IL. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the YMCA of Rock River Valley, where Gary spent many hours exercising and chatting with the other “regulars” at the Riverfront Y. To send online condolences and share memories, please visit www.fitzgeraldfh.com



To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gary N. Foster, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Visitation

Monday, November 27, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Monday, November 27, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Guestbook

Visits: 60

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree