Albert "Bert" Foster liked to say sailboat racing was akin to a chess match.
So many moving parts to consider: the wind, the water, the geometry of the race. Foster took to the sport with a fierce competitive spirit and unyielding focus.
Foster, 80, most recently of Spring Park and formerly of Deephaven, died May 22.
Born in St. Louis, Foster attended Cornell University, graduating in 1960. He moved to Minnesota after taking a job with St. Louis-based Emerson in 1965, according to his wife, Carmella Zagone Foster.
"He was passionate about everything he did, and it was contagious," she said.
Especially sailing. His longtime friend Ernest Brody said, "Sailing is one of those things that, once you've done it, you get the hook in your mouth, and you're addicted."
Foster left an enduring legacy at the Wayzata Yacht Club, where he was one of its earliest members as well as race committee chair for much of the time and commodore from 1975 to 1976. He also served on the Wayzata Community Sailing Center board for many years.
He was known for recruiting members to the yacht club and to sailing, particularly women. Today, the Wayzata Yacht Club has more women sailors as a percentage of membership than any yacht club in the world. He was awarded the club's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
"We couldn't go out to lunch at a restaurant without Bert recruiting the entire wait staff to come out to the club," his wife said.
He insisted that sailing and the yacht club should appeal to everyone, and he railed against the sport's perceived snootiness.
The club "is a very welcoming place, and Bert emphasized that. He said everyone should be welcome," Brody said.
For many decades, Foster and Brody ran the club's new-sailor program, which they referred to as the "Bert and Ernie Show." (Their boat was called the "Sesame Street.") Foster also officiated at many regattas, including those held at Bayfield Race Week and by the Lake of the Woods International Sailing Association.
Fifty years ago, Foster lost the use of one of his arms in a hunting accident. But he still continued to sail, qualifying as a member of the U.S. Disabled Sailing team from 2007 to 2011. He competed the world over using a sailboat called "Captain Hook."
Foster had a business career as chief executive of CirTec and American Plastics Exchange. He was a broker for Dean Witter and attended the Harvard Business School Executive Program.
He was also active in civic affairs, representing Deephaven on the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District board for 17 years, serving as chair from 2001 to 2004.
He was a member of St. Martin's by-the-Lake Episcopal Church in Minnetonka Beach, serving on the foundation board and as a member of the vestry.
In addition to his wife, Foster is survived by sons Albert "Terry" Foster, Andrew Foster and William Foster; their mother, Lucinda "Cindy" Goodale Pratt; a brother, Torrey Foster; a sister, Claire Evans; stepchildren Mike Lee, Kathy Lee Rassouli, Christine Lee Athey, Steve Lee, Amada Busch, Zachariah Busch and Andrew Busch; five grandchildren; and seven stepgrandchildren. He was preceded in death by a sister, Marian Foster Clifford.
A celebration of Foster's life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Wayzata Yacht Club.