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, NH. 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 conflict journalist, 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 murdered by ISIS on August 19, 2014 in the Raqqa region of Syria.