SPOKANE, Wash. -- In July, friends, family and colleagues gathered to remember the life and legacy of former House Speaker Thomas S. Foley at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane.
Foley was unable to attend the tribute because of his failing health. He listened in on a special line set up for him.
People who attended the event said they wanted to honor his work. His colleagues said he was a great man not just because of his work ethic but his personality.
“The man has 30 years in Congress he did so many wonderful things. It’s hard to imagine how much he accomplished,” said Foley’s colleague, Nancy Belsby.
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.