Augusta “Dawn” Adams is a licensed embalmer, funeral director, and the chief operating officer of Foster Funeral & Cremation Service, a chain of two funeral homes serving families throughout Wisconsin. She felt a calling to the funeral industry from a very young age, and remembers telling her parents, Edward and Jacqueline, that she wanted to work in a mortuary when she was just 13 years old. Though her parents supported her dream, she chose to pursue a career in nursing after graduating from high school. She completed coursework at Tuskegee University before earning an Associate of Science in biology at Indiana University in 1992. Ms. Adams continued her education at the School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning her licensed practical nurse credential in 2000.
She spent more than 20 years as an emergency room nurse before her calling to work in funeral services returned to her. Ms. Adams had experienced the tragic passing of both of her parents during this time, losing her father to an accident while she was still in nursing school and her mother while she was still in the nursing field. She remembers being able to pronounce her mother and aid in the service as pivotal moments that inspired her to return to her original dream of becoming an embalmer. Ms. Adams returned to school at Domine Community College in 2012, where she met her future business partner, Bryan Foster. She graduated in 2014 with a degree in mortuary science and opened Foster Funeral & Cremation Service the same year. She continues to serve as chief operating officer in addition to performing preparation and funeral director work.
Ms. Adams strives to demystify the funeral process and make families feel at home during services, explaining that “at the end of the day, it might still be a business, but at the beginning of the day, it’s just a family getting together.” She is honored to have had repeat clients, including a family who returned to her for three separate funerals because they were impressed with the respect and warmth they received. Ms. Adams is licensed to practice in three states, and hopes to be known as both a dynamic leader who can make things happen and a compassionate provider who treats clients and employees with respect and compassion. She credits her success to determination and commitment, advising others that success in any industry requires work, patience, and tenacity to weather the inevitable changes and rough patches.
In the coming years, Ms. Adams hopes to open additional Foster Funeral & Cremation Service locations, and wants to help other women interested in the mortuary services industry carve their paths into the business. Her career highlight was becoming the first Black woman in the country to become a licensed funeral director, despite being a single parent and having health issues come up along the way, and she would love to see more women make an impact on the industry. Ms. Adams is a member of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Crematory Affirmation National Association, and the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Examining Board, and has been named to the Funeral Divas and 100 Black Women of Funeral Service.
Outside of her work, Ms. Adams is active in her church and a supporter of their youth group program. She describes her goal in life as to put God first, do good from her heart, and help others get what they need, and hopes to be known for her compassion. Ms. Adams says that ultimately, “to care for someone else is the ultimate service you can provide for them.”