Lady Jane: Portrait of a peacenik

Jane Foster lives with her husband of 50 years in a white cottage with yellow trim, nestled in a woody grove. You'd expect her to be on the local neighborhood association to preserve this serene little hamlet. Well, she is. She's the secretary, as a matter of fact.

What you might not expect is to see this septuagenarian on the front page of the Daily Progress protesting the war with Iraq. But on January 19, that's where she was. Jane Foster has spent a lifetime speaking out about her political beliefs. Activism, so often associated with the young fast crowd, is a way of life for the 78-year-old former social worker.

"All the organizations that try to make the world better, we usually belong to them," Foster says. Nationally, that includes the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. Locally, Foster is a member of the board of directors for the Monticello Area Community Action Agency, or MACAA.

"It's an anti-poverty agency," Foster explains. One of MACAA's programs, Head Start, works with three- and four-year-old underprivileged children whose parents are often working too many hours (at less than living wage, another of Foster's pet issues) to prepare them for elementary school.

Although Head Start has struggled in the past few years, things are looking up. "In the last summer, we were completely approved in everything," Foster says. "Now they consider us an excellent example."

All these good works keep Foster and her husband, Eugene, busy. "There's so many meetings, my kids all tease us," she says. Eugene– who had his own moments of fame in the fall of 1998 when he put together the pieces of the Jefferson-Hemings DNA puzzle– spends some of his retirement leisure recording for the blind.

Protesting the war with Iraq has kept Foster especially busy. She's still staunchly against the war, even now as the fighting winds down. She doesn't buy the administration's story that Saddam Hussein was a threat to national security.

"Of course it was a trumped-up excuse," she says. "There was no justification for it. We can't stop Bush and his men from doing what they want to do. I think people of conscience have to speak up," she says.

One place you wouldn't find Foster was in the middle of the Ridge, Main, and South streets intersection on March 20, where anti-war protesters snarled traffic for nine minutes.

"Passive resistance has a lot of different forms," she says, adding, "I'm pretty bourgeois and older. I'm not trying to irritate." Foster includes her work with MACAA and other organizations as forms of resistance. For her, resistance is a way of life.