Our View: Citizen Foreman

Posted: November 1, 2012

Michael Marcellus Foreman — who departed this life and this community far too soon Tuesday night at the age of 71 — was sui generis, one of a kind, a man of myriad traits and many talents, all of them estimable.

As his older son David told The Star, Mr. Foreman was, to his very core, an educator. But, in addition to being a teacher and public-school administrator, he was also an elected official (City Council and clerk of the Winchester Circuit Court), a civic leader and volunteer, a local historian and repository of knowledge, a loyal Democrat and dedicated Rotarian, an amateur photographer, a quipster, a master storyteller, and a dear, dear friend to many.

This proud son of Handley and the University of Richmond was also, and most importantly, a devoted son, husband, and father, and a doting grandpa. As such, Mr. Foreman is an irreplaceable presence to those closest to him. But Veerle, David, and Stewart Foreman willingly shared spouse and dad with this community. So with them an entire community mourns, because he touched so many parts of it — and, in the process, so many lives.

It seemed to us that he had so much more to give, and planned to do so. Twenty-eight years a court clerk, Mr. Foreman poured himself into an active retirement, and into this community more so perhaps than ever before. He taught at Shenandoah University, he served on the Mount Hebron Cemetery Board of Managers (and was its president at the time of his death), and he chaired the Steering Committee that pursued the elusive goal of city-county unification.

Most of all, though, Mr. Foreman was a community resource — and treasure — a keeper of the Winchester flame. In the best tradition of the man who taught and then hired him at Handley, Dr. Garland Quarles, he authored a well-received book on local “worthy lives” — in his case, all of them women.

As a historian, Mr. Foreman appreciated not only the basics, the well-known facts, of our lustrous local heritage — he was a regular, for example, at the annual Civil War-era “Gathering of Eagles” — but also its subtleties, nuances, and oft-overlooked aspects. A prime example of the latter? Winchester’s medical history, done with a special emphasis on the nursing profession, of which his beloved mother — Hazel Evans Foreman — was an exemplar.

Just as illuminating was Mr. Foreman’s expressed fondness for the “characters” who’ve given this community, over the years, its flavor and personality. Whether he realized it or not, Mr. Foreman stood at the head of this distinctive class, for a “character” he most certainly was.

Though diminutive in stature, Mike Foreman was larger than life — a latter-day “Mr. Winchester” and, in this capacity, a worthy successor to the late Stewart Bell Jr.

It’s a vast understatement to merely say he will be missed. That is a given. ’Tis far better, and more accurate, to say that here, in the community he served and loved, he is irreplaceable. For he was, above all else, the very embodiment of that high and meritorious calling — Good Citizen.