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Tom Foley
Tom foley.jpg
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
In office
June 6, 1989 – January 3, 1995
President George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded by Jim Wright
Succeeded by Newt Gingrich
25th United States Ambassador to Japan
In office
November 19, 1997 – April 1, 2001
President Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded by Walter Mondale
Succeeded by Howard Baker
Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1987 – June 6, 1989
Deputy Tony Coelho
Preceded by Jim Wright
Succeeded by Dick Gephardt
Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Leader Jim Wright
Preceded by John Brademas
Succeeded by Tony Coelho
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Walt Horan
Succeeded by George Nethercutt
Personal details
Thomas Stephen Foley

(1929-03-06)March 6, 1929
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
Died October 18, 2013(2013-10-18) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Heather Strachan
Alma mater Gonzaga University
University of Washington, Seattle

Thomas Stephen "Tom" Foley (March 6, 1929 – October 18, 2013) was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Washington. He served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Early life

Foley was born in Spokane, Washington. In 1946, he graduated from the Jesuit-run Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. He went on to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane and the University of Washington in Seattle, the latter awarding him a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951. In 1957, he earned a law degree from the same university.


He was the 57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1989 to 1995. He represented Washington's 5th congressional district for 30 years as a Democratic member from 1965 to 1995.

Foley was the first Speaker of the House since 1862 to be defeated in a re-election campaign for Congress. He served as the United States Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2001 under Bill Clinton.

He is sometimes viewed as a political casualty of the term limits controversy of the early 1990s. President Bill Clinton attributed his defeat to his support for the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

Personal life

Foley was married to Heather Strachan until his death in 2013.

In 1997, Foley was appointed as the 25th U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton. He served as ambassador until 2001.

Foley was a Washington delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

On July 9, 2003, Washington Governor Gary Locke awarded the Washington Medal of Merit, the state's highest honor, to Foley.

He was North American Chairman of the Trilateral Commission.


Foley died at his home in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2013, following months of hospice care from complications from a stroke, aged 84. Speaker John Boehner, and Nancy Pelosi, who also served as Speaker, issued statements honoring Foley.

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