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Pittsylvania County mourns death of 'rising star' employee who died of COVID-19
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Pittsylvania County mourns death of 'rising star' employee who died of COVID-19

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John Foster

John Foster

Pittsylvania County leaders are mourning the loss of a “rising star” within the governmental organization who died of COVID-19 on Oct. 5.

John Foster, 40, was promoted twice in the two-and-a-half years he worked for the county. The Collinsville resident began his journey as a heavy equipment mechanic at the Pittsylvania County landfill in February 2019.

About a year ago in October 2020, he look over as solid waste fleet foreman, said Chris Adcock, director of public works in Pittsylvania County.

He was the one responsible for scheduling roll-off drivers on a daily route to collect dumpsters filled with trash throughout the Pittsylvania’s 21 collection sites. He also made sure the truck fleet was operating in tip-top shape.

Many times that meant he had to come to the landfill before dawn. After he prepared the schedule, sometimes he’d have to pitch in and drive routes when needed.

“John was a rising star in our organization and was identified by the executive team as a high potential employee,” Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman said in a statement. “In his short time with the county, he was known as kind, courteous, hardworking, conscientious and grateful.”

In July, Foster was again promoted to be the interim landfill supervisor in addition to his new duties as fleet foreman.

“John accepted each new assignment without complaint and dove into the duties with a desire to learn everything he could and to do the best job for the county that he could,” Adcock said.

He was studying to obtain the license needed to become the permanent landfill operator and he was ready to take the exam.

But he never got the chance. That’s when the illness caused by the novel coronavirus hit him.

In what the county described as a “long battle with COVID-19,” he was in Sovah Health-Martinsville for several weeks before he died.

So far, 295 residents of the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District have died of the virus. Of those, nine were people in their 40s, like Foster.

“John was grateful for his job and his coworkers and truly enjoyed learning and becoming a better person every day,” Smitherman said.

Juggling supervising duties along with repair work seemed to come natural for him. For example, he could operate nearly all of the equipment at the landfill.

“Dozers, compactors, excavators, skid-steer loaders, he was proficient at all,” Adcock said.

And he wasn’t one to waver when it came to getting into the trenches with fellow workers to explain what was needed to get the job done.

“As a supervisor, John got along well will his employees,” Adcock said.

“All of Pittsylvania County mourns this tragic loss of a great employee and person,” Smitherman said.

Foster is survived by his wife and three children, according to his obituary. A celebration of life will be announced in the future.

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