Locals honor former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley


by KREM.com


Posted on July 24, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 9:16 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The tribute to the life of a Spokane treasure began at 5:30 p.m. at the Bing Crosby Theater. Ambassador and former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley will be celebrated for his work representing Eastern Washington.

People who attend the event said they came out Wednesday night to talk about the work he did for the area. His colleagues said he was a great man not just because of his work ethic but his personality.

"I can tell you that kind of dignity, integrity, class is rare today in politice. Speaker Foley was really a first class statesman and someone we can all be proud of," said Eric Makus, who worked with Folley.

Foley was not able to attend the tribute due to his poor health. The event was taped and all the sentiments will be sent to Foley and his wife to watch. 

PHOTOS: A look at Foley's career

Foley was born March 6, 1929 in Spokane. He attended Gonzaga Prep and Gonzaga University. He transferred to the University of Washington and then UW Law School.

Foley was deputy prosecutor for Spokane County, was Washington’s assistant attorney general, and worked in D.C. for Sen. Henry M. Jackson for several years.

Foley represented the Fifth Congressional District in U.S. House for 30 years. He supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but other Democratic leaders did not. He supported gun control and an automatic weapons ban, earning the opposition of the NRA, which had previously backed him.

He became the first person from a state west of the Rocky Mountains to serve as Speaker of the House in 1989. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan for four years for President Clinton.