August 28, 1855, Geneva, Illinois.
February 8, 1935, Rock Island, Illinois.
Chippiannock Cemetery, Rock Island, Illinois.
Foss’ parents, Carl Johan Abrahamsson Foss and Charlotta Christina Eriksson, were Swedish immigrants. He married twice, to Esther Foss and Sarah Margaret Shuey Foss.
Foss attended the Red Wing College institute at Red Wing, Minnesota, then entered Augustana College at Rock Island, Illinois, in 1879. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in June 1883.
In 1884, he became professor of history and political science at Augustana College. In 1888 he became vice-president of the college, and served until 1900. On the death of Dr. T. N. Hasselquist, he was acting president until the election of Dr. Olof Olsson as president in 1891. Upon Olsson’s death, Foss again served as acting president until Dr. Gustav Andreen became president.
In addition to his academic positions, Foss was on the board of directors of the Augustana Book Concern, the Board of Home Missions for the Augustana Synod, and was treasurer of the Synod’s Board of Foreign Missions. In 1908, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America sent him as a commissioner to inspect its mission field in southern India, where he traveled extensively (1908–09). Upon completing his work in India, he inspected the Synod’s mission in Persia in 1909, and traveled in Egypt, the Holy Land, Asia Minor, southern Russia, and south and central Europe.
Foss also found time to edit the Lutheran Quarterly Review, the Augustana Journal, and the Olive Leaf, and contributed to various other magazines and periodicals. His largest literary work was Glimpses of Three Continents, a travelogue through India, the Bible lands and Europe (Augustana Book Concern, 1912).
Foss belonged to the American Institute of Civics, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the American Historical Association, and the Swedish Historical Society of America. He was a member of the Grace Lutheran Church in Rock Island, Illinois.