SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Prep communities are remembering former House Speaker Tom Foley who passed away Friday.
In a statement Friday, after learning about Foley’s passing, Gonzaga President Dr. Thayne McCullogh said, “As a great American statesman, he was also a Zag.”
Foley attended Gonzaga High School before going to the university. While in high school, he was a state champion on the debate team. During his time on the team, he earned the nickname ‘Senator.’
Foley went on to debate and study at Gonzaga University before transferring to the University of Washington, where he graduated.
Much like his father, Foley taught at Gonzaga’s law school before entering politics. The university has a building on campus called ‘The Foley Center.’ The building is technically named after his parents but he was an important part of getting the center built.
His dedication to public service is what Dr. McCullogh says exemplifies what it means to a Gonzaga Alum.
“He way always intent on trying to do good, trying to see good happen. And to try and make lives better amongst the people that he served,” said Dr. McCullogh.
Gonzaga Prep President Al Falkner said Foley’s legacy continues to inspire students.
“Clearly one of our most distinguished alumni. Our motto as a school is ‘go forth and set the world on fire’ and here’s a person who really did that,” said Falkner.
Falkner also said Foley would come by Prep whenever he was in Spokane and would give a presentation.
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.