It was a send off 67-year old James Paul Foster wished for, what relatives called a “cowboy burial.”
The funeral, with full military honors, began on Saturday morning with his family and friends, including many members of the Northern Ohio Outlaws, attending services at Gompf Funeral Home in Cardington.
Adorning western gear, the Outlaws gathered at the site of the former Johnsville Elementary School and saddled up. Foster’s flag-draped casket was transferred from a modern hearse to a century-old, horse-drawn hearse fitted with glass windows. It was followed by members of the Northern Ohio Outlaws on horseback.
“That’s the cowboy way, and that’s the way he wanted it,” said daughter Juanita Riggins, of Fredericktown.
Foster, served in the US Army after graduating from Madison High School in 1966. He worked at Tappan Stove, at HPM as a machinist, and at Stahls. After retiring, he worked at Glendale Cemetery in Cardington. He’d been captain of the Johnsville Fire Department for seven years and worked for the township.
He’d enjoyed team penning as a member of the Central Ohio Team Penners. Since 2007, he had been not only a member of the Outlaws, a group of cowboy mounted shooters, but also its director.
Foster had been ill for the past two years with cancer.
As a drizzling rain set in, a slow procession began north onto U.S. 42, to the cemetery.
K. Dean Shira, of Fredericktown drove the Percheron horses that pulled the hearse.
Greg Gompf, of Gompf Funeral Services, said his father bought the glass hearse at an auction 10 to 15 years ago. It’s kind of a collector’s item from the early 1900s — fully restored,” he shared.
It had been driven before Saturday in other funerals handled by Gompf Funeral Home however, “it has been quite a few years,” he noted.
Foster’s wife, Judy, liked the idea of using the glass hearse and old-fashioned cowboy procession, said Gompf.
“She thought it would be fitting,” he said.
A brief graveside service was held with full military honors including a 21-gun salute.
Then, in the cowboy way, members of the Outlaws rode their horses firing into the air with whoops and hollers befitting a cowboy.
The Outlaws, affiliated with the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, hold shoots at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.
Members of the group canceled a Jackpot shoot at the Ohio State Fair in order to pay their respects to their director and friend.
Reach Donna Carver at 419-946-3010, ext. 1804 or on Twitter @MorrCoSentinel