Robert Dean Foster died on September 17, 2008 in Salt Lake City, UT of cancer.
A preacher at heart, Foster welcomed friends and strangers alike to the haven he carved in a sandstone slab in the Dry Valley area north of Monticello.
Whether expected or happenstance, the visitors let Foster share his blunt and colorful perspectives on religion fundamentalism, polygamy, world turmoil, and his 30 year labor at Rockland Ranch.
When he was 18, Foster joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a bishop, stake mission president and spent 13 years as an LDS seminary teacher. But when he was 46, Foster converted to fundamentalism and eventually created a family that included three plural wives (his first wife divorced him).
He never joined any fundamentalist group. The LDS church excommunicated Foster in 1972. A bigamy conviction in 1974 and apocalyptic fears sent Foster in search of a safe place for his family. He found it near Monticello, where he blasted home-sized holes into a massive rock on leased public land.
Foster considered the ranch “another Ark” that would keep his family and friends safe from the world chaos he believed was imminent.
Anne Wilde, a longtime friend, said she was skeptical when he showed her an artist’s drawing of his plans for Rockland.
“He was one of the few men I have ever met who had a grandiose plan for something and it actually came true,” she said.
Wilde said Foster was an excellent teacher who was “instrumental in converting young people to fundamental Mormonism.”
Foster is survived by his three wives, Carla, Susan, and Karen; 38 children; and 85 grandchildren.
A celebration of his life was held on September 22 from 6-8 p.m. in Sandy. A funeral service was held on September 23. Foster, who served in the U.S. Air Force in World War II, was buried at the Utah State Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park at Camp Williams in Bluffdale.
(Major portions of this are from an article in the Salt Lake Tribune by Brooke Adams.)