Sue F. Foley
Long time community leader and banker Sue F. Foley died March 5, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev. in the loving arms of her husband, Harold. She was born in Stockton, Calif. and educated in southern California where she began what would become a nearly 50-year career as a banker and community leader.
Sue and Harold moved to Alaska in 1976 where Sue began working as a teller, launching her 38-year career with First National Bank Alaska. When Sue retired in 2012 as Senior Vice President of the bank, she had mentored scores of Alaskans as she demonstrated how to work hard at the details to achieve big goals.
When given a task or a job, Sue looked upstream and downstream. She learned not only her own role backwards and forward, but also always gained a specific and detailed understanding of what others around her were doing.
Sue envisioned a world where no child will be hungry or without adequate housing, clothing, education or care. This is the world she strived to bring into being every day of her life.
Sue’s work to make life better for children in her community, her state and the world was done with very little fanfare or self-aggrandizement. She preferred to work quietly, getting things done in a most efficient and timely manner.
As a leader in the board room and in the community, Sue was always willing to try new things and accept new challenges, be it learning about different areas of the bank, her community or the world.
She demonstrated her strong personal commitment to the youth of her city mainly through her involvement with Anchorage East Rotary Club and the Boys and Girls Club of Alaska.
As a board member of the Boys and Girls Club, Sue was a key figure in completing several of its projects including the construction of the Mt. View Community Center/Boys and Girls Club, numerous successful Boys and Girls Club fundraising auctions and the JobReady program, designed to get teens ready to compete in the job marketplace.
As President Elect, President, and Past President of Anchorage East Rotary, she spearheaded an effort with club members to identify and develop projects that would have a lasting impact in the community. She sought club members’ ideas for projects and fully involved them as leaders in those projects.
As a result of this initiative, the Rotary/Food Bank of Alaska Mobile Food Pantry was born.
Converted from a beer truck, the brightly painted Mobile Food Pantry serves six specific sites in Anchorage where packaged and fresh food is distributed each week to low-income families year round, regardless of the weather. Anchorage residents can often see the highly-visible Mobile Food Pantry driving to or parked in one of the six sites. Since its inception, the Mobile Food Pantry has provided millions of pounds of produce, dairy products and other perishable foods to thousands of Alaskan families in need, and is Anchorage East Rotary’s largest ongoing volunteer project annually, involving hundreds of club and family members and other community volunteers. As a result of Sue’s vision and ability to inspire others, thousands of Anchorage residents now have a source of much needed food on a weekly basis.
While serving her community and her state, Sue expanded her reach across national borders. There are still areas of the world where polio is major threat to children. In 2000, Sue was chosen to travel to India to be part on the Rotary’s Polio-Plus program. To recognize National Immunization Day and to help end the scourge of a disease entirely preventable, Sue administered polio vaccine drops to thousands of Indian children. In 2004 she returned to India to deliver more polio vaccinations to poverty-stricken children.
Leveraging her role as a leader in the Rotary service club, Sue lead a group of four young business people and professionals under 40 years old on a Rotary Group Study Exchange to India in 2002. The Rotary Foundation’s Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers. Sue lead her team to India for several weeks to experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas.
She traveled to Eagle’s Nest Orphanage in Tomsk, Russia on a volunteer project in 2006 where she taught quilting to the students.
Reaching out to her neighbors of all ages in Anchorage and Alaska, Sue served on the board of directors for the Blood Bank of Alaska, donated time and resources to the Food Bank of Alaska, volunteered with the Alaska Chapter Down Syndrome and donated her considerable skills as a quilter to non-profit fundraising efforts like Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis.
At the time of her death, Sue was the District Governor of Rotary District 5010, challenging the thousands of her fellow Rotarians in Alaska and the Yukon Rotary District to change lives by doing good in the community, both locally and internationally.
Sue is recognized as a role model and mentor and one that others wish to emulate. She was frequently identified as such, not by her own wish, but by the desire of others. Those who worked closely with her know there was no task too small or menial for Sue to perform. It was by ensuring all the details were covered that she sought and achieved feats of greatness. Her legacy will live on in her countless good deeds and the many lives she touched as she selflessly sought to improve the welfare of others here in Alaska and around the world.
Sue was proud to share her time in service and travel with her husband, Harold Foley. She was preceded in death by her father, George Abourezk and two brothers. In addition to her husband Harold, she is survived by her mother, Marian Cook of Idaho, as well as an aunt and cousin in Montana and her brother and many nieces and nephews in California and Washington.
The Celebration of Life for Sue will be held in Anchorage on April 13 at 1:30 pm in the Captain Cook Hotel.5