Henry L. Foley, thinker, teacher, soldier, loving husband and devoted father, grandfather, great grandfather and uncle, died on October 16, 2020, in Manhasset, NY on Long Island. He loved his parents, his sisters, their families, and his wife’s sisters, their families, his children and their children and his great grandchild. He was 99 years, 9-and one-half months old. He was a dapper dresser, always wearing a tie and a white shirt, through retirement and to the end.
Mr. Foley was born to Henry J. and Margaret H. Foley, in a farmhouse in Bellingham, MA on December 30, 1920. He was born “blue,” without a pulse, appearing to have died in childbirth, but he was revived and survived. He enjoyed a childhood in Union Village, RI, where he worked on household projects and radios with his father. He was an avid Boy Scout and spent his summers camping out with friends on Slatersville Reservoirs. A graduate of Woonsocket High School, he went on to serve honorably in World War II in the Eighth Army Air Force as a part of an aerial photo reconnaissance unit attached to General Patton’s Third Army. He was in theatre for the landing in Normandy on D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, including the battle for Bastogne, the Malmady Massacre, the liberation of the concentration camps, and the end of the war with Nazi Germany. One of his most favorite activities was to regale his loved ones and friends with historically accurate accounts from the war.
Upon his return to the United States, he studied and received his degree in accounting from Bryant College. He also practiced in the field for different companies around Boston and southern New England, but his passion was teaching. In 1950, he took a teaching position at Bryant and remained there until his retirement in 1990. He taught across the curriculum of business, and his case studies in Finance for seniors were among the most highly sought-after courses offered by the school. He enjoyed being an educator in accounting and finance, and brought the material to life with relevant business stories in the news. Working with young people, he felt kept him young.
He was the driving force on the Bryant College building and planning committee to move the campus from the East Side of Providence to the Tupper Estate in North Smithfield where it grew from a small business school into the University that it is today.
During the mid-1960’s, he organized the first union for college educators in Rhode Island. Despite road blocks and threats, he persisted until the union was established, allowing him, his colleagues and future educators to receive better pay and benefits for their work.
In January 1952, Henry wed Virginia D. Mussi, a valedictory graduate of Woonsocket High School. They had a long and loving marriage and together they raised two children, a son, Henry Charles and a daughter, Anne. Henry and Virginia were inseparable for 63 years, until she predeceased him in February 2015.
To friends, family and colleagues what distinguished Henry most was his thinking; he never denied, seldom affirmed, but always questioned. Often starting a conversation with a provocative comment, he would grow it into “a good argument.” But, he had rules for engaging in such an argument: 1) participants could not take anything personally, and 2) they were expected to be able to argue either side of an argument with equal vigor, one side in the morning, and the complete opposite in the afternoon. His temperament and habit of mind were such that he was drawn to speculation about the big metaphysical questions. This fit well with his quiet, but unshakable faith in God and Catholicism.
Henry is survived by his daughter Anne Holdreith, her husband Mark, and their two sons, Sean and Colin Holdreith, of Manhasset, NY. He is also survived by his son Henry Charles Foley, his wife Karin E. Foley, of Plandome, NY and by their two daughters, Laura C. Ulrich (nee Foley) and her husband Adam P. Ulrich, and their daughter, and Henry’s great granddaughter, Juliet B. Ulrich, of Winterville, NC, and Erica A. Foley and her husband Ryan M. Sugden, of Denver, CO.
Henry will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Charitable donations in his memory may be made to, SmileTrain.org. Funeral services will be private.