Family, friends remember Lexington historian Foster Ockerman, Jr
The Lexington native was known for his work as a local historian, attorney, and author
LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)- The Lexington community is remembering the life and legacy of local historian Foster Ockerman, Junior. The 70-year old passed away on Sunday.
The Lexington native was known for his work as a local historian.
“When I think of Foster, I think of history because he was passionate about Lexington’s history,” says 12th District Council Member Kathy Plomin.
Plomin knew Ockerman for more than thirty years and worked closely with him on various projects. She says his death is a shock to the entire community.
“He was kind of the “unofficial” Lexington historian,” says Plomin.
Ockerman was a founding member of the Lexington History Museum and served as its president for six years.
The Museum released a statement that says: “We are extremely saddened by the untimely loss of Foster Ockerman, Jr. He was a founding trustee of the museum and a vocal and dedicated advocate for Lexington history for decades. We are grateful that foster shared his talents with the community and tirelessly worked to reestablish Lexhistory’s physical presence in Lexington. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”
The statement continues, saying: “Words cannot begin to describe my sorrow over losing such a good friend and colleague. Foster was truly one of a kind. He was a capable attorney, an accomplished writer and a spellbinding raconteur.” said Jim Dickinson, Lexhistory’s board chair. “I have had the pleasure of knowing foster since 1974, and he was directly responsible for my becoming a part of the Lexhistory board. Over the decades, foster was devoted to the task of making sure the history of Lexington was properly preserved and told. I remember with fondness how much joy he took in gathering unique artifacts–some of which dated back to the founding of Lexington. Although i still cannot believe he is no longer with us, i take comfort in the fact that Lexhistory found a new home and permanent exhibit space when we entered into a lease with the blue grass trust. Foster took great pride in Lexhistory’s growth in 2022, including our ability to hire professional staff. I will miss him.”
To honor Foster, the museum has established the Foster Ockerman, Jr. Memorial fund. Donations can be made online here or by mail to PO Box 748 Lexington, Kentucky 40588. Please include Foster Ockerman, Jr. Memorial fund in the memo line of any mailed donation.
Eric Brooks, the curator and site manager of the Ashland-Henry Clay Estate collaborated with Ockerman and both sought each others expertise during meetings and projects.
“He was the person most responsible in many ways for ensuring its survival when it was trying to find a location, find ways to be relevant, find activities and means to serve the public,” says Brooks,
Abc 36’s Doug High worked closely with Ockerman during a documentary. He describes Ockerman as a warm, wonderful person whose knowledge of Lexington was off the charts.
“He saw history as living and breathing. He saw it as a way for us to make better decisions moving forward. And for him to have such a deep understand of Lexington’s history and to share it with this community was such a gift,” says High.
Plomin says because of Ockerman’s efforts, the museum is now set become a better institution to serve the community.
“We were finally able to get the funding for the Lexington History Museum to come back and have an executive director and also to have physical location. That just happened. So I’m so glad Foster got to see that. Because that meant a lot of him. And it is very timely that it happened just a few months ago,” says Plomin.
The Lexington native was also known for his work as an attorney serving clients for decades. Ockerman also authored many books throughout his life.
“He’s not just telling the story because someone wanted the story to be printed. He’s telling the story because it is important to him,” says Brooks.
A staple in the community whose own chapter may be closed, but whose book isn’t finished yet.
“It is important to look at the model that Foster set in that he never stopped working, he never slowed down. He understood that time was fleeting and it was important to keep doing things and moving things forward,” says Brooks.
Ockerman’s visitation will be Thursday, December 15th from 12-3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. A private funeral will be held at Lexington Cemetery.
You can read his full autobiography here.