Murphy James "Mike" Foster 1996-2000, 2000-2004
Born: July 11, 1930 in Shreveport, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Republican
Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian
Career Prior to Term: U.S. Air Force; sugar cane farmer; founder of Bayou Sale construction firm; President of Sterling Sugars, Inc.; President of St. Mary Parish Farm Bureau; State Senator
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1996 and 2000
Governor Murphy James "Mike" Foster, Jr. was born on July 11, 1930, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Centerville where he attended public school as a child. As a young man, he was involved in several extracurricular activities including the Boy Scouts. Attaining the highest honor and rank of Eagle Scout is the one childhood accomplishment the Governor still cherishes and holds dear.
In 1948, he graduated from high school and enrolled at the Virginia Military Institution. After one semester at the Virginia Military Institute, Governor Foster transferred to Louisiana State University, where he pursued a Chemical Engineering degree. After graduating from the university in 1952 with a degree in Chemistry, Foster joined the Air Force and served in the Korean War. After returning home to Franklin from the war, he began farming sugar cane and soon after formed Bayou Sale Contractors, primarily as a means to keep his farm crew together in the off-season. Additionally, the Governor has been a board member of several local banks, a junior warden of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the president of the St. Mary Parish Farm Bureau, and a member of the American Legion.
A life in politics never appealed to Mike Foster; however, in 1986, after “becoming frustrated with the non-responsiveness of state government, he ran for a seat in the State Senate. After fulfilling two very active terms in the Senate, then Senator Foster decided that he could get more accomplished as governor.
On January 8, 1996, after mounting a successful campaign as a Republican candidate, M.J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., was inaugurated as Louisiana’s 49th governor since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After a very successful first term, Governor Foster ran for a 2nd term and won in a landslide in the first primary. This was the first time in many years that anyone has won the governorship outright without a runoff election. He was inaugurated in January 2000 and that term expired in 2004.
When he was not running the state, Governor Foster enjoyed spending his free time at his home, Oaklawn Manor, in Franklin. While family, fishing and hunting occupied the bulk of his free time; his thirst for knowledge and education led him to take motorcycle and helicopter-flying lessons. While in office, he also started taking courses part-time at Southern University Law School in Baton Rouge.
[Above biographical information courtesy Governor Foster's Office.]