Correspondence – Death of Gerry Foley
21 April 2012
I just learned from Gerry Foley’s friend in Mexico that Gerry died suddenly today in Mexico. Gerry called me a few days ago to say that he was happily moving from his rented home in Mérida to a happy home in San Cristobol de Las Cases, in the mountains of Chiapas.
Just a few moments ago Gerry was walking into his house. He fell down and died almost immediately with no symptoms beforehand other than a mild cough and some shortness of breath, according to his close friend Pete.
Gerry was a founding member of Socialist Action, a fulltime revolutionary for our party for some 20-plus years. Before that he was a full-timer for The Fourth International, magazine International Viewpoint. And before that a full-timer for the SWP since his twenties. Gerry was 72 or 73 years old and perhaps our most dedicated, talented and gifted revolutionary.
Those of us who knew him will never forget his generous spirit, brilliance of exposition, depth of analysis, love of life in all its diversity and enduring friendship.
Gerry not only read in 80 languages but was fluent in more than a dozen. More amazing, his uncommon language facility was matched by a truly unbelievable understanding of the history and culture of each language that he mastered.
He was perhaps the world’s most informed person on Irish history. Tears often came to his eyes when the subject came up during his innumerable talks on virtually any subject he was assigned to. Lessons from the Irish struggle for self-determination, the longest in world history, more than 700 years and still uncompleted, found their way into so many of Gerry’s talks and writing. No comrade that I ever met or knew of could match Gerry’s deep understanding of the national question.
Comrades who knew Gerry will immediately know that this is no exaggeration. He was a champion of all oppressed peoples and despised their oppressors with great passion.
Gerry’s contribution to the revolutionary socialist movement will endure through the generations. His works have been published across the world. His spirit and dedication lives in our
party and comrades.
Gerry remained an honorary member of our Political Committee to the end, finding the time once in a while to join our deliberations and take an occasional assignment. He hoped to attend our August National Convention.
I write today just a few minutes after Gerry’s untimely death out of duty to all his many friends and comrades and to express my great sorrow at his loss. In the days ahead I hope to hear from comrades who knew Gerry well and who can take a few moments to record some of the precious experiences that highlighted his mighty contribution to the socialist cause and the love and interests he shared so generously with so many of us.
The coming issue of our newspaper will honour Gerry’s contributions to our common struggle for the liberation of all humankind. We want it to be a sterling call for others to follow in his footsteps.
With great sadness and tears for our magnificent friend and comrade. He taught us all so much and enriched our very being.