In memory of

John P. Foley

May 21, 1923 – October 17, 2010

John Patrick Foley, 87, died October 17, 2010 at Fort Harrison Veterans Hospital in Helena, Montana. He was born May 21, 1923 in Laurel, Montana, the sixth of eight children born to his Irish immigrant parents, Daniel and Rose Foley. He graduated from Laurel High School in 1941.

He met and married Rita Cassidy from Clyde Park in 1947, and they had seven children; Jerry, Kathleen, John, Bryan, Barry, Doreen and Mary Ann. They divorced in 1982.

John was drafted in 1944 and served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army, and was a Veteran of WWII. He served in the European Theatre and was a member of the 10th Armored Infantry Division, the 45th Infantry Division, and the 3rd Infantry Division, and was honorably discharged in June, 1946. He was in Germany at the end of the war, and was part of the occupation force stationed in Garmisch Partenkirchen when the conflict ended. John was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in WWII.

John worked for the Montana Highway Department in Laurel from 1948 to 1962, and then transferred to the Highway Materials Lab in Helena, where he worked until 1970. He left the Highway and moved his family to Fresno, California, where he and Rita owned and operated a chicken take-out and delivery business. After that business closed, he supported himself as a self-employed recycler, collecting and selling cardboard and other recyclable materials he picked up from businesses throughout the greater Fresno area. He also occasionally gave ballroom dance lessons, and was quite the dancer in his later years. He was a member of the Elks Lodge # 193 in Helena and still enjoyed the Friday night dances there until just before he died.

John moved back to Helena in 1997, and established himself in the community as a dedicated volunteer at the VA Hospital at Ft. Harrison. He became visually impaired in his later years, but he did not let that deter him from being an active volunteer. He was recently recognized for his over 4700 hours of volunteer service in the last six years. He was well known on the floors and in the hallways of the hospital, and always had a word or a quip for everyone he knew. John will be greatly missed by all his friends at the VA.

John was preceded in death by his Parents and his brothers Joe, Dan, Leonard, and Leo, and his sisters Mary Jane Morrissette, Rose Ellen Carpenter and Sally Flynn. He is survived by his sister in laws Rosetta Foley of Laurel and Mary Foley also of Laurel. He is also survived by his brother in law Bill Flynn of Anaconda. His surviving children and grandchildren are Jerry Foley of Helena and his sons Ryan (Lori) of Cedar Rapids, IA and Christopher (Heather) of Missoula, MT; Kathy (Jeff) Walter of Missoula and their son Josh (Kelly) of Seattle and daughter Sarah Walter and partner Tim Ehlert of Minneapolis, Minnesota; John (Sandy) of Madera, CA and their daughter Shannon and son Michael; Bryan of Fresno, CA; Barry (Tori) of Fresno and their daughters Megan and Kendra; Doreen Foley of Coarsegold, CA and her daughters Emily and Elizabeth Avina; Mary Ann Foley of Fresno and her son Jimmy and daughter Cassidy Zeiner of Moreno Valley, CA. He is also survived by two great grandchildren, Abigale Rose Cullins of Fresno and Henry Walter Ehlert of Minneapolis, and many nieces and nephews. He will be missed by all.

Viewing and a Rosary service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 24, 2010 at Retz Funeral Home Chapel with family receiving friends beginning at 6:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. Monday, October 25, 2010 at the Cathedral of St Helena in Helena, Montana with a reception to follow the Mass in the Brondel Center of the Cathedral. Burial with Military Honors is set for 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 26, 2010 in the Foley family plot at the Laurel City Cemetery in Laurel, Montana.

In lieu of flowers, Donations may be made in John’s name to the Fort Harrison Voluntary Services, P.O. Box 167, Ft. Harrison, MT 59636, or to an organization of the donor’s choice. To offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of John, please visit


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  1. Michael L. Foley says

    While on my Meals on Wheels route today I was pleasently surprised by the number of my women clients that expressed their condolences on the loss of my uncle Johnny. All of these women had been in the military and Doctored at Fort Harrison. All of the ladies remembered Johnny as flirt and a tease and always looked forward to seeing him when they were at the hospital. Way to go Johnny. Always the ladies man!

  2. John will be missed………wonderful helpful man who cared about many people. His humor and williness to be a volunteer at the VA hospital will be greatly missd. A very nice man u all should be very proud of…..thank you

  3. Chuck Siefert says

    We are so saddened at hearing of the loss of John. He was an outstanding individual who always had a kind word and a ready smile. He will remain in our thoughts and memories. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time.

    -Chuck Siefert
    -Martha Dutch

  4. Beth Foley Bitzer says

    Jerry,Kathy,John, Brian, Berry, Doreen and Mary Ann, I am so sad about your dad’s passing. I so enjoyed seeing him and he was such fun, you just never know what he would be up to next. I will see you in Helena on Sunday.

  5. Theresa Vonada says

    I am so fortunate to have known John Foley. Such a friendly and caring man with a great sense of humor. Thank you so much for bringing me coffee. One of my favorite memories is when you told me I looked good every day, then I remembered you did not see very well. We both had a great laugh. I know you will be a bright star in heaven and I hope you are on the dance floor every night in those shoes. RIP my friend, you earned it.

  6. ken fenstermacher says

    Tammy and I are saddened by the passing of John. He was an outstanding person that took time to say hello to everyone. He was a truly great role model and will be missed.

    Our prayers are with his family.

  7. Pat & Patsy O'Connell says

    Jerry, Our prayers for John and for the family.
    Pat & Patsy

  8. Theora Schwegel says

    John Foley was an awesome friend who will be missed immensely. He had so many stories about his life events and had a different one to tell each time we met. our sense of humor was so similar and we had many occasions to laugh and derive enjoyment from the absurdities all around us. John -you’re a hoot and will be fondly remembered.

  9. Mike and Marcy O'Connell says

    Dear Jerry,
    We are so sorry to hear about your Dad. He was a dear man and his memories will always be with us.

    Mike and Marcy O’Connell

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