Foster Kidd, African-American dentist, dental historian, and civic leader, was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on February 2, 1924, to Sylvester Kidd and Louvenia (Levy) Kidd. Sylvester Kidd died a few months after Foster’s birth. Later Foster’s mother owned a boarding house in Galveston, Texas, and Foster received his public school education in Galveston.
During World War II, Foster Kidd served in the Pacific Theater as a sergeant in the United States Army from June 1, 1943, until February 8, 1946, and he was awarded a Bronze Star. After the war, he attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and earned a B.A. degree there in 1949. In about 1950 Kidd married Pearl Coleman of Pulaski, Tennessee. Kidd continued his higher education studies in Nashville and attended Meharry Medical College of Dentistry; he completed his D.D.S. degree there in 1953.
In 1953 Foster and Pearl Kidd moved to Dallas, where Foster established a dental clinic on Hall Street in the State-Thomas neighborhood. Later he moved his clinic to an address on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The Kidds became very active in volunteer service and community activities in Dallas. The couple had three children: Jocelyn, Cheryl, and Foster Junior.
Kidd was a member of both the American Dental Association and the National Dental Association. He was the founder, president, and chairman of the board of the Society for the Study of the Negro in American Dentistry. He edited a book entitled Profile of the Negro in American Dentistry that was published by Howard University Press in 1979. His book traces the history of black dentists in the United States beginning in 1697. He continued to gather data and do research on the subject. He also wrote some articles for dental journals.
In 1972 Foster Kidd became the first African American appointed to the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. He served from 1972 to 1978 and retired as the board’s president. He was a member of the Texas Dental Association, the Gulf State Dental Association (GSDA), the Dallas County Dental Society, and the M. C. Cooper Dental Society. He was a visiting clinical associate professor of pedodontics. He had served as vice president of the Texas Society of Dentistry for Children. Kidd was a charter member of the YMCA, a life member of the NAACP, treasurer of the Concerned Voters Council, member and vice chair of the board of trustees of the New Hope Baptist Church in Dallas, a member of Sigma Pi Phi, a member of the Omega Psi Phi Club, and a member of the Rotary Club International. Kidd was a recipient of the outstanding achievement award in dentistry from the Committee of 100 of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.
In the late 1950s Foster Kidd was taught to play golf by Nelson Young, his friend and neighbor. He quickly embraced the sport and became a fierce competitor. Kidd worked tirelessly to perfect his golf game. He took his clubs with him just about anywhere he went. Once on a family vacation, Kidd removed his car’s spare tire to make room for his bag of golf clubs. In the 1960s when Althea Gipson, the first African-American LPGA player, came to Dallas for a tournament, Foster and Pearl Kidd invited Gipson into their home. For many years thereafter, whenever Gipson came to town for a tournament, she stayed with the Kidds. Foster took the opportunity to use these visits as learning experiences to improve his golf game.
Kidd helped found the Pro Duffers Golf Club. In 1983 and again in 1986 Kidd won the Pro Duffers Southwest Chapter club championship. Through other Pro Duffers members, Kidd learned of the Minority Junior Golf Association. At that point, he decided to establish the North Texas Junior Golf and Education Foundation. This foundation mentored inner city youths through the game of golf and gave them an opportunity to earn a college scholarship.
Foster Kidd died on August 21, 2001, at seventy-seven years of age, after suffering a heart attack while doing something he loved—playing golf. His funeral was held at New Hope Baptist Church in South Dallas, and he was buried at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas. His Foster Kidd Foundation carried on his mission to help students through golfing.
On September 6, 2001, the Congressional Record published a document presented by the Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas that paid tribute to the life of Foster Kidd. It said, in part, “He was a dentistry expert, activist, historian, mentor, father, husband and friend to many.” It also said, “Dr. Kidd was a leading authority on African-American orthodontic history, collecting scores of documents that tell the story of black dentists. He was also an extraordinarily effective mentor, using his love of golf to mentor local youths. Dr. Foster Kidd was a true Dallas hero.”