What's a father to do? For Ben F. Foster, Jr. -- father, son, prominent attorney -- a role in helping the Health Science Center's award-winning research in aging was an irresistible challenge.
At 52, he has taken a particular interest in the research, but it's not a selfish interest. His father, Ben Foster, is 92; his son, David, 26, is a medical student at the Health Science Center with an interest in geriatric care.
Talk around the family dinner table got Ben Jr. thinking. "You know," he said, "we've extended the length of life, but I'm not so sure we've extended the quality of life."
Ben Jr., who has been active in civic affairs for years, began to learn more about the Health Science Center from David. And he was particuarly impressed with the wide array of research under way in the field of aging.
In 1993, he accepted an appointment to the Health Science Center's Development Board, which promotes private support of the university's programs.
"Two things appealed to me," he said.
"First, the Health Science Center is such an important part of our community that it presents a good challenge to me to help enlist public involvement in the university both in terms of financial support and in other ways.
"Secondly, the aspect of the aging research impressed me very much. My father being 92 was one thing, but I happen to be a labor lawyer. As our work force becomes older, it is going to pose new challenges about how society adapts to the changes," he said.
Ben Jr. and the Community Advisory Committee of the university's Aging Research and Education Center, an umbrella organization for researchers in aging, are working to establish an endowed chair for the center. The Health Science Center has more than 100 aging and age-related research projects under way that are supported by $10 million in public and private grants.
"The Health Science Center is a nucleus of fantastic resources," he said.
Ben Jr. isn't the first lawyer in the family. His father was a lawyer and so was his grandfather. But David's decision to pursue medicine seems to delight nearly everyone in the Foster family.
"My boy's about to finish medical school and he wants to be a small-town, South Texas primary care physician," Ben Jr., a native Texan, said with a smile. "I couldn't be prouder."
There's a little surprise in all this for dad, too. David is scheduled to graduate on May 28, his father's birthday.
For more information on the Aging Research and Education Center at the Health Science Center, please contact Joseph F. Teague Jr., director of development, Office of University Relations, (210) 567- 2056.