“She was an angel. She was one of those people you don’t come across very often,” said nurse Debra Hunter, who worked with her for about eight years before Foster died from ovarian cancer in 2001.
The interest in a formal memorial to Foster came about after nurses learned the expansion process at FMC might force the removal of an informal memorial - a maple tree that Foster watched grow outside outpatient surgery room No. 3 during her years as a nurse.
“The staff got real excited (Wednesday), anxiously excited, that the tree was coming down,” said Bessie Hornbuckle, director of surgical services, who was Foster’s supervisor. She said the nurses knew about the expansion process, but it didn’t occur to them that the tree might be a casualty until they saw other trees being removed.
“We would watch (the tree) change leaves through the seasons, and (Foster) would always comment on it,” Hunter said. “It just became Danna’s tree.”
“(The tree) is all we have left of her,” she added.
Hunter said she called hospital officials to voice her concerns about the tree on Wednesday, and immediately the tree was marked not to be cut down until a decision could be made on some way to preserve a memorial.
“I was just tickled pink when I saw that barrier around the tree,” Hunter said.
“We wanted to make sure we’re not desecrating (Foster’s) memory or removing something that’s touching to her coworkers,” said Haley Crider, FMC’s director of public relations.
Foster’s formal memorial will be set up in the “healing gardens” common area to be included in FMC’s expansion. Hornbuckle said the memorial likely will include a plaque honoring Foster and a photograph of her. It will be set up in about the same spot where the maple tree stood.
“She was the ultimate picture of what a nurse should be, so caring, so dedicated,” Hornbuckle said, adding that Foster wanted to continue to serve as a nurse even after doctors said her illness would not allow her to work.