Shrewsbury – The gift of a long and well lived life is a blessing. And perhaps the longer we have the presence of people we love…it makes saying goodbye just a little more difficult. But faith assures us that life changes. It doesn’t end. Life for Ruth Foley and her family changed Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. On a beautiful sun-filled day she died as she lived, surrounded by her treasures – her family and friends. With a heart filled with love and gratitude she was ready for her next adventure…a rainbow ride to heaven. She was 97.
Ruth M. Brennan was born Nov. 21, 1919 in Worcester, daughter of the late William F. and Elizabeth (Donahue) Brennan. Raised and educated in Worcester, she was a graduate of North High School, class of 1938, and attended Worcester State College. After many years spent raising her children, she enjoyed working as a secretary in the Central Administration Building of the Worcester Public Schools.
Her life was a colorful book – each chapter a series of adventures and celebrations. Guided by cornerstones of strength, adaptability, and faith, Ruth devoted her life to family and friends. She fell in love with Worcester native Joe Tracy (Holy Cross ’38), and they married in 1942. Together as an Air Force family they travelled the world raising their children, always circling back to Worcester. Joe died in service of his country in 1957 and Ruth returned to Worcester dedicating her life to her four children.
Through the children, Ruth met and married John Dowd (Holy Cross ’32) creating a home for their six children. When John died, Ruth’s next adventure was moving to Shrewsbury with the Avis family, taking an integral part in the lives of her grandchildren. Devotion to family and church led Ruth to meet Jack Foley (Holy Cross ’38) at Saint Mary’s of Shrewsbury. In 1994 they married, beginning a new adventure full of song and laughter. The circle of friends continued to grow.
Years tried to slow Ruth down, but she continued to be the life of the party, celebrating milestones and simple moments. As she embraced each day, the highlight of this adventure was enjoying her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Ruth’s family mourns her loss, but celebrates her life. She leaves her children, Beth FitzGerald, Patty Avis and her husband Jack, and Kathy Tracy, all of Shrewsbury, Michael Tracy and his wife Lis of Lakeland, Fla., and John Dowd and his wife Pat of Milwaukee, Wis.; her grandchildren, Annie (Bill) Rosario, TJ and Katie FitzGerald, Matt Avis, Callie Avis (Jordan Thomas), Mike (Katie) Avis, Lizzie (Dave) Gasparini, Joe Tracy, Jane, F. Joe Tracy, Chris (Fiona) Dowd, Jo Dowd, Margie Burke, Timmy (Danielle) Burke, Maureen (Steve) Power, and Brendan (Theresa) Burke; and her great-grandchildren, Zoe, Colin, Tommy, Josephine Ruth, Sylvie, Luca, Oscar, Theo, Ashleigh, Meg, Patrick, Katie, Matt. In addition to her husbands, Ruth was predeceased by her daughter, Kathy (Dowd) Burke, and her siblings, Billy Brennan and Louise Painter.
The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation to Dr. Annie Abraham and Kathy Murray RN for their loving care and kindness to Ruth and her family.
Family and friends will honor and remember Ruth’s life by gathering for calling hours Thursday, March 2, from 4-8 p.m., at Heald & Chiampa Funeral Directors ~ The Sumner House, 5 Church Road, On the Common, Shrewsbury Center, and again Friday morning before leaving in procession to Saint Mary’s Church, 640 Main St., Shrewsbury, where her funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in St. John’s Cemetery in Worcester.
Memorials in her name may be made to the Friends of Shrewsbury Senior Center, 98 Maple Ave., Shrewsbury, MA 01545.