Longtime The Dalles entrepreneurs and philanthropists Tom and Marjory Foley are this year’s grand marshals for the Northwest Cherry Festival Parade.
They will lead off the parade at 10 a.m. The timing is earlier this year and will allow more people to take advantage of the many other activities going on downtown throughout the morning and afternoon.
Tom Foley was born in The Dalles after his father moved here and bought the Hotel Dalles in 1920, perhaps best known today as where Democratic presidential primary candidate John F. Kennedy gave a speech in 1960 while campaigning in town.
The hotel was where The Dalles Inn is located today.
Tom got some of his early work experience at the family’s Foley Lakes Dairy at the age of 13 or 14.
He started his own business career in the restaurant industry, launching the original Dairy Queen at Fourth and Union streets, not far from where he was born in what is now the Colonial Building.
Through his career, he owned a number of burger and ice cream places, including the Irish Treat where Big Jim’s is today and the Handout, now the home of Holstein’s Coffee. He also owned restaurants in Hood River.
But the Handout was the birthplace of an enduring local favorite, the Hefty Henry, complete with secret sauce.
“Oh, yes, the kids really loved it,” Tom said. “And I used to go out to the fair and serve food at the style show out there. The kids would come from all over. They just loved the Hefty Henry.”
The sandwich was so popular that Foley revived it in 1966 when he started Spooky’s Pizza, which he operated until 1984. He leased the restaurant to other pizza companies until Bob and Joanna Stanek revived the original name. The Hefty Henry lives on in the current Spooky’s menu.
The Foleys went into cherry production in 1981, purchasing orchards in The Dalles and Dallesport.
The Foley imprint on The Dalles was more than just restaurants and cherries. Tom and Marjory both served on local boards and foundations.
Tom was president of the local chamber of commerce when the name was changed from The Dalles to The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce in recognition of the role of rural agriculture in the community’s economy.
“We felt, and Tom convinced the board, that it needed to be more encompassing,” said Virgil Choate in a conversation with the Foleys.
Tom was also a long-time Kiwanis member and one of the originators of the Kiwanis Steak Feed. During his time there, he got the idea to hold a buffalo feed as part of the Fort Dalles Rodeo events. Mayor John Skirving shot the animals during a trip he Foley and Irl Davis took to a Yakima, Wash., buffalo ranch.
“The Mayor (Dr. John Skirving) came with us and we took another fellow who skinned them and everything,” Foley said. “We got two of them.”
The man who went with them told of the care required in approaching a dead buffalo.
“He said, ‘Now when we shoot it, we have to be awfully careful because every buffalo in the herd has to smell the thing. The big bull will go first and so on. When they get away from it, that’s when you go up to it.’”
The heavily promoted event served more than 1,000 people.
“Everybody was curious,” Tom said.
Tom also participated in parades, using a flatbed truck with a grill on it and serving hamburgers as the procession went along.
“We did it for two years and served up over 200 hamburgers each year,” he said.
“It kind of caused a riot,” Marjory added, “in that people would be following us.”
Foley was one of the original individuals who helped save Old St. Peter’s Landmark, serving as vice president on that board for a number of years. He also coached Little League, served on the city planning commission and on the school board.
He also retired only recently from the local branch of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which seeks to help people in need.
Father Quigley at the Catholic Church and Mike Ballinger got the organization started, running it out of the rectory garage. Tom became involved later, when the organization was operating out of St. Mary’s Academy.
“We worked out of the office and delivered food all around from there,” he said. “I got interested in building, so we bought that little building down on Third Street.”
They operated the thrift store in the front, and purchased a kitchen from Sherman County School and added that onto the building.
“That’s when we got Community Meal, and they’re still there,” he said.
The thrift store now operates in the society’s building on West Ninth Street.
Marjory has also played significant community roles throughout her career. She taught junior high and high school from 1952 to 1954. She also served with the American Association of University Women, the P.E.O. Chapter BF, Little League, Babe Ruth, Campfire Girls and was on the college foundation for 13 years.