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James Wright Foley

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James Wright Foley Obituary
James Wright Foley

James Wright Foley was born on October 18, 1973 in Evanston, Illinois. He was the first born son of Diane and John Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire.

Jim grew up in the beautiful town of Wolfeboro. He was the oldest of five children. After graduating from Kingswood High School in 1992, he chose to go to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At Marquette, he made life-long friends and was challenged to serve the voiceless. From 1996 to 2000, he served 4 years with Teach for America, teaching in inner city Phoenix, Arizona.

Jim was drawn to writing and completed an MFA program in writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2002. While in Massachusetts, he taught unwed mothers to help them achieve their GED and later in Chicago, taught English to inmates at the Cook county Jail.

By becoming a photojournalist, Jim was able to merge his interest in writing with his compassion for the poor, disadvantaged and suffering amid conflict. Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois granted him this opportunity. He began in Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya and finally Syria. Jim was detained by Colonel Gadaffi's Libyan regime in 2011 for 44 days; but finally released.

In January of 2012, Jim began what would be many trips in and out of northern Syria as a freelance photojournalist. He began cautiously, but then gained confidence as he met kind and hospitable Syrians, who offered him their generous hospitality. Jim was last home in October 2012 to visit and celebrate his birthday. Our last phone call with Jim was one week before he was kidnapped on 11/22/12 in northern Syria. Our family never heard his voice again.

Jim was executed by ISIS on August 19, 2014, in the Raqqa region of Syria.

He is survived by his beloved maternal grandmother, Olga M. Wright, his parents, and his siblings Michael, John, Mark, and Kathryn Foley. Three beloved nephews are Michael, Matthew, and Jack, and his niece, Rori. Other close family include Rita &Fernando Colina, Robert and Paula Foley, Martha and William Jackson, William and Sally Foley and 11 cousins. He is predeceased by his cousin, Patrick and his paternal grandparents, John and Marilyn Foley of Plymouth, and his maternal grandfather, Elliot A. Wright of Keene.

All friends of Jim are cordially invited to his final Memorial Mass in Celebration of his Life will be held on the occasion of his 41st birthday, Saturday, October 18, 2014. His celebration will take place at the at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary church at 189 North Main St. Rochester, N.H. at 10 a.m. followed by a lunch buffet.

Please RSVP at so we can welcome all with enough seating and food.

The Foley family has established a James W. Foley Legacy Foundation in memory of Jim to keep his passions for freedom and education alive. Please visit to help Jim live on through his foundation.

Visit for an online guest book.

Published in Fosters from Sept. 16 to Sept. 26, 2014
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