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The 2004 crop of honorees added to the Fredericksburg Wall of Honor made lifelong contributions to the community.

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Date published: 4/24/2004


Susie Peach Foster, Methodist deaconess, missionary, campus minister and social worker, arrived in Fredericksburg in 1945 to become the first director of the Wesley Foundation at Mary Washington College.

She also would become a major force in the local and state civil-rights movements and had a vital role in the Head Start program. A longtime associate and friend wrote: "Miss Foster envisioned one world of unity in diversity and encouraged those about her to share their gifts with others."

"Susie Peach," as the tiny but forceful woman was known, was born in 1906 in Havana, Ala., the daughter of the Rev. Robert A. and Abbie Peach Foster. Her extensive education included a bachelor of arts degree from Huntingdon College in Alabama and a master of arts degree from Scarritt College, with further studies at Union Theological Seminary and Emory and Columbia universities.

Her arrival in Fredericksburg was preceded by 10 years of mission work in Korea and posts in a settlement house in Chicago and the Woman's Division of the Board of Missions in Nashville.

In Fredericksburg, she went to work right away, spearheading fund raising to purchase land and erect the Wesley Foundation Building on Dandridge Street. While it was under construction, her apartment on College Avenue was the meeting place for the Wesley Foundation, the Methodist Student Association. (Today the Wesley Foundation building is the ecumenical Campus Christian Center.)

Soon after she came to Fredericksburg, Susie Peach Foster made many friends in both the white and black communities. She established a social group of black teens and adults, together with college students.

By the 1950s this became an enlarged interracial group, "The Community Fellowship." It was the beginning of what became a part of the Virginia Council on Human Relations and then, locally, the Fredericksburg Council on Human Relations.

In the 1960s Susie Peach Foster was instrumental in the opening of Fredericksburg lunch counters to blacks and the integration of James Monroe High School. She helped establish the Ann Hamrick House, which gave Mary Washington students opportunities to learn child care.

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