Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Joan Foley

May 27, 1933 - April 18, 2023
Schoolcraft, MI


Life Story Visitation

Friday, May 12, 2023
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.

A time of sharing will be held at 7 pm

Driving Directions

Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, May 13, 2023
12:30 PM EDT
St. Joseph Catholic Church
936 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Halleck Creek Ranch
P.O. Box 159
Nicasio, MI 94946
(415) 662-2488
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Joan Marlow Foley, a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and teacher passed away peacefully on April 18, 2023, surrounded by her six children. Joan passed as she lived with generosity and grace and in her final hours was able to speak to many of her extended family and dearest friends. Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Kalamazoo County Judge John Foley in 2007.

Joan was born on May 27, 1933, and raised in Waterloo, Iowa, the youngest child of William Clifford Marlow and Ella Murphy Marlow. She adored her brother William and her sister Marilyn. As a young girl, Joan excelled at school, graduating from Our Lady of Victory Academy at the age of 16. She studied at the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, Minnesota before transferring to the University of Michigan where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English. Joan and Marilyn then joined forces in Ann Arbor, pursuing master’s degrees in English and teaching English at Livonia High School.

In 1956, Joan met John Foley on a blind date at a Michigan/Northwestern football game and went on to celebrate 50 years of marriage, 6 children and 13 grandchildren. Joan and John’s early years were spent in Birmingham Michigan where they were active members of Holy Name Parish and the Democratic Party. In 1969, the Foley family relocated to Schoolcraft, Michigan with a romantic vision of country life in a 19th-century farmhouse. They lived on their beloved Puck Farm for 52 years, developing close friendships with their neighbors.

Driven by a strong faith and sense of justice, Joan dedicated her life to being of service to others. She and John were active in many movements including civil rights, peace, and Catholic social justice. On a local level, she served loyally as a poll worker in Schoolcraft. She also enjoyed her work as a docent of the Kalamazoo Institute of Art and was a dedicated member of the Schoolcraft Lady Library Association, the Kalamazoo Garden Club, and the Kalamazoo Lawyers Auxiliary.

By nature and training, Joan was a quintessential teacher. Professionally, she taught high school English and Good Books at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She was also a personal mentor, editor, and tutor to many. Papers, theses, dissertations, and published works benefited from Joan’s insights and editing.

An important part of Joan and John’s spiritual, social, and political life centered around The Group, a community that evolved from the Pre-Catechumenates in the early 1970s. For over 40 years, The Group has prayed, marched, and celebrated together. Their support was increasingly important to Joan after John’s death.

Joan moved to Marin County, California in 2019 to be near many of her children. Joan appreciated the friendships she developed and the care she received at AlmaVia Assisted Living in San Rafael, California. In her last years, she was the sun around which her children and grandchildren orbited.

Joan is predeceased by her parents, William and Ella Marlow; her brother, William Marlow and a sister, Marilyn Marlow; and husband, John Foley. She is survived by her six children: Sean (Eva), Patrick, Rosemary (Gerard), Joan (Earle), Meg (Kevin), and Ella (Cormac); 13 grandchildren: Maeve, Sinead, Kathleen, Gilian, Emma, Annika, Ian, Andrew, Liam, Kerrigan, Ronan, Spencer, and Teresa.

A Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared will be held Friday (MAY 12) from 5-7 pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, Michigan (269) 375-2900 and a Funeral Service will take place Saturday (MAY 13) 12:30 pm at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 936 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Please visit Joan's webpage at BetzlerLifestory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Halleck Creek Ranch, a therapeutic riding center for people with autism and other disabilities located in Marin County, California.