During his four years as the Mingus Union school superintendent, Tim Foist at one time or another rubbed just about everyone in town the wrong way.
His name frequently was used with the metaphor that addresses china shops.
But for most of us, when Mr. Foist left his employment with the Mingus Union School District in June 2013, he was considered a friend not because of warm and fuzzy memories, but because you had no other choice but to respect him.
His methods were often suspect, but his results could not be denied.
As one Mingus Union employee said when learning of his death this past week, Mr. Foist came along at the perfect time for MUHS. He was the ideal person for MUHS at a time when results were more important than the manner in which they were achieved.
Or, who was offended by the manner in which he achieved those results.
The most interesting quality about Mr. Foist was that he was a lifetime public education government employee who was the antithesis of the way government employees typically conduct business.
In other words, he got things done.
In the time it takes most government types to form a committee and schedule a series of meetings to address, discuss and debate a problem, Mr. Foist had security fencing installed around the perimeter of the MUHS campus and established firm immediate rules on parking privileges at the school. He immediately put an end to the sieve that saw students come and go from the campus at all hours of the day as well as provide enhanced safety over who could access the school.
He took bold and firm action on personnel issues that had spread like cancer at MUHS. He imposed his will on people to get building projects done on time, and under budget.
Yes, he was often guilty of apologizing after the fact instead of asking permission before, but it was the results he achieved that were most important and one could seldom argue with his results.
While Mr. Foist often found himself at odds with the adults with whom he worked, he had a unique, deep and profound relationship with the students at MUHS. Some said he related to students better than adults. He knew how to push the right button with kids. One of the standard motivational talks Mr. Foist gave to students who were struggling with challenges focused on leadership. He would explain to them how their personal leadership was being challenged with the current struggles they were facing. He put special emphasis on the reality that the way they handled the challenge confronting them now would establish a pattern for how they would confront struggles their entire life. On the athletic field, he would tell them the manner in which they dealt with the challenge currently facing them would set the tone for the entire team for the balance of the season.
Like him, and his methods, or not, Tim Foist was a man you always had to respect in the final analysis.
He was the best kind of friend you could have.