Foleys Are Downsizing, but Keeping All the Memories

Posted September 9, 2013 at 4:41pm

In a move aimed at clearing away some clutter, Heather Foley, wife of infirm ex-Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., is offering up almost two dozen rare collectibles set to be auctioned off this weekend.

“He’s frail. Fortunately, we bought long-term care insurance. Otherwise, I don’t know what I would do,” Heather told HOH of the financial toll treating the aspiration pneumonia Foley has battled off and on for the past year has taken on the family.

The 84-year-old Foley remains in hospice care at home.

The brunt of the lot, which is available for viewing and bidding via Quinn’s Auction Galleries, features modernist furniture and portraits produced by trendsetters Herman Miller and Paul Doering, respectively. There’s even a Hans Wegner lounge chair (minimum bid: $1,000). Heather says it is the first piece of high-end comfort Foley ever acquired.

But perhaps the most curious castoffs are the tiny figurines Heather snatched up while half a world away.

(Courtesy Quinn's Auction Galleries)
(Courtesy Quinn's Auction Galleries)

“If you go on a good trip … you really do work. But it’s a wonderful education,” Heather said of congressionally sponsored travel.

On this particular journey, she wound up learning all about disease-resistant grains at the International Rice Research Institute (“We spent a day there,” she recalled), met the indomitable Chiang Kai-shek and received a lesson in power shopping from retail maven Imelda Marcos.

“She swept us all up … and organized our four days there,” Heather said of the Filipino leader. After several days aboard the Marcos’ yacht, the visiting dignitaries started getting restless.

“Somebody complained that there was no time to shop,” Heather said. Next thing they knew, Marcos brought aboard a number of local vendors looking to unload cultural treasures.

(Courtesy Quinn's Auction Galleries)
(Courtesy Quinn's Auction Galleries)

Heather immediately fell for the saintly statues.

“It’s the only thing I bought on that trip,” she told HOH.

The Foleys took another lap around the globe with Albert in 1975, hitting Russia, Romania and Yugoslavia during that round.

But this time, Heather missed a pivotal excursion.

“I didn’t get to go on the yacht with Tito because I was sick,” she said of her missed opportunity to mingle with Yugoslavian strongman Josip Broz Tito.