Sen. Forrester entered politics in 1982 when he was elected to the Gaston County Board of Commissioners. He was first elected to the NC Senate in 1991 and served 11 terms, which included numerous leadership positions. At the time of his death, he was Deputy President Pro Tempore and Co-Chair of the Appropriations and Transportation Committees, and Vice-Chairman of Health Care. During his legislative career, he was named Legislator of the Year by four different organizations, including the NC Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the NC Society of Anesthesiologists.
Sen. Forrester earned his medical degree from Wake Forest University (Bowman Gray) and completed his internship at NC Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. He received a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from UNC Chapel Hill. He practiced Family Medicine for 46 years in Stanley, NC, before retiring in 2011. He was a Life Member of the NCMS, which he joined in 1963.
A Retired Brigadier General with the NC Air National Guard, Sen. Forrester earned over 2000 flying hours during his military career, which included Flight Surgeon missions during the Vietnam War. Among his many military honors are the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Award.
Senator Forrester was well known for his community and public service, including membership on the state Health Planning Commission, Governor’s Commission on Reduction of Infant Mortality, Advisory Council for Emergency Medical Services, Environmental Review Commission, Governor’s Task Force for Healthy Carolinians and Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force. Among his community service awards are the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, American Cancer Society Outstanding Service Award, and the NCMS Community Service Award. He received the AMA’s Pride in Profession Award in 2001.
Sen. Forrester was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1937 and graduated from high school in Wilmington, NC in 1954. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Mary Frances Forrester, three daughters and one son, and eight grandchildren. The family will receive friends from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Stanley, NC. Funeral services will be held on Sunday at 3:00 pm at First Baptist Church.
The James S. Forrester, Sr., MD Family Medicine Endowment at Wake Forest University School of Medicine has been established by the family in honor and remembrance of their father’s commitment to public service. The endowment will fund scholarships for medical students who pursue a career in Family Medicine and intend to practice in North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Wake Forest School of Medicine for the James S. Forrester, Sr., MD Scholarship in Family Medicine, c/o Office of Development, P.O. Box 571021, Winston-Salem, NC, 27157.