by Ed Grisamore, Macon.com
After all, his name was Dallas. He went to college in Nashville. And he lived in Houston.
That’s Houston, as in Texas, not the county to the south of his hometown.
Dallas Foster’s heart, the one that gave out last week, always had a special place for Macon, even when he didn’t live here.
He kept a song in that heart, too. And, when he lifted his beautiful voice, there was room for everybody on the dance floor.
It was not the same heart he arrived with in the world 52 years ago. It was the one he got on loan when he received a heart transplant in Atlanta in 1999.
He was released from the hospital on July 25, the day before his 40th birthday.
His new heart must have been an exact replica of the original because it never missed a beat.
Dallas kept right on being Dallas, a giant of a man who loved and was loved.
“He lived his life to the fullest at every juncture and never fell down,” said longtime friend Donna Massey Harper. “He was a miracle man, and everybody who ever met him felt that way about him.”
Nine years ago, at his 25th high school reunion of Central’s class of 1977, his classmates gave him a small statue of the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz,” who also went looking for a heart.
Dallas was born again -- in the medical sense of the word -- with the gift of life that beat softly inside him. After his transplant, he became an advocate for organ donation. He passionately became involved in campaigns to raise awareness, especially in the black community.
Three weeks before he died, he made a video for LifeGift, a not-for-profit organ procurement organization. He was a dedicated volunteer with the group, which serves 109 Texas counties. (The video can be viewed on YouTube.)
He also was featured on billboards for Donate Life Texas. He is shown with his guitar with “Give Life a Second Chance” in big, bold letters.
Music was a major part of his life. Dallas made his singing debut as a child at Holsey Temple CME on Washington Avenue in Macon, where a memorial service will be held for him Saturday at 11 a.m.
In 1995, Dallas formed a five-piece band called “Just Got Lucky” after an old blues song by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. He played the guitar and was the lead singer.
They performed everything from blues to country to gospel and Southern rock. They were the opening act for several big concerts in Houston over the years, including Rare Earth, Carlos Santana, The Guess Who and Jerry Jeff Walker. Two years ago, just a few weeks before his 50th birthday, the band released its first CD.
Still, Dallas always considered himself more blessed than lucky. He came from good timber.
His father, the late E.G. Foster, operated a sign shop in downtown Macon. His mother, Connie, died after suffering a heart attack after hitting a deer with her car.
But she was an organ donor, and that left a lasting impression on him. A few years later, he developed cardiomyopathy and spent eight months on a heart transplant list at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta.
He wasn’t the only advocate in his family. His sister, the late Susan Foster-Ray, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and became a well-known volunteer with the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Dallas was a two-time participant in the Transplant Olympics, where he played tennis and volleyball.
In the video he made just a few weeks before he died in his sleep, Dallas was asked if there was anything he couldn’t do after his heart transplant a dozen years ago.
He said doctors told him he was not supposed to lift heavy objects, do yard work or construction work.
He laughed and said that suited him just fine. He never had a desire to do any of those things anyway.
That left him plenty of time to make a difference.
And he did.