Hal Lovelace Foster (1858-1946) received his medical degree in 1882 from the University of the City of New York Medical Department (now New York University College of Medicine). During his time in New York City Dr. Foster studied ear, nose and throat medicine at several major hospitals and infirmaries. In 1882, Foster decided to move west and open a practice in Kansas City, Missouri. In Kansas City, Dr. Foster joined the staff of local hospitals and soon had a flourishing otolaryngology practice.
In 1896 Dr. Foster invited over 500 ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists to what was to be the first meeting of the Western Ophthalmological, Laryngological, and Rhinological Association (renamed the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in 1903). Dr. Foster estimated that the entire meeting cost $400, which he paid entirely from his own funds. Remembering the event Foster said, “the money I spent in calling those specialists together was the best investment I ever made.”
Throughout his career Dr. Foster was interested in the development of medicine in America. Not only did he found the predecessor organization of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, but was also a charter member and officer in five other local and national medical societies, including the American College of Surgeons.