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401 Hall St. SW, Suite 263
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Life Story / Obituary
Therese Foley lived a wholehearted life, rich in faith, family, and friends. Generous and kind, Therese never hesitated to give of herself in service of others. She welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend. Therese had a terrific sense of humor, which softened her headstrong ways and resulted in a lot of laughter for those who were lucky to share her company. Whether tending her home, caring for her family, working, volunteering, traveling, or sharing time with friends, Therese lived every moment to the fullest with humility, grace, and gratitude. A loving wife, stepmother, grandmother, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and friend, Therese will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
In 1958, the microchip was invented, NASA was formed, gas was only .25 cents a gallon, and unemployment was less than 2%. While the Packard ended production, National Airlines began the first passenger flights with the Boeing 707; Billie Holiday and Elvis Presley dominated the radio, and Candid Camera brought laughter to our homes each week. It was truly a time of hope and prosperity. Nowhere did hope reign more clearly than in the hearts and home of Richard and Virginia Swendroski as they welcomed their daughter Therese Jean on April 10 in Grand Rapid, Michigan.
The oldest of the five Swendroski kids, Therese grew up in the good company of her younger siblings, Cindy, Debby, Rick, and Tony. Her father worked at the Knape & Vogt factory, and her mother worked in maintenance at Grand Rapids Press. The family lived on the west side in a Polish neighborhood on Park Street and attended Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. As a girl, Therese loved to play outside. She always had a good time when going to John Ball Park, ice skating, or playing Chinese jump rope, “Mother, May I?” and other neighborhood games.
As a teen, Therese worked at Dairy Queen and drove a red Chevy Monza. While a student at Union High School, she participated in choir and ran the 100-yard dash. She proudly graduated from high school with the class of 1976 and was thrilled to buy her dream car, a 1976 navy blue Ford Mustang.
Therese attended Davenport College and later completed her Bachelor of Arts degree through distance learning online. Over the years, she held many different jobs, including working for HH Cutler Clothes and at Knape & Vogt for eight years. While working at Knape & Vogt, one of the maintenance workers caught her eye. Charlie Foley was always a welcome sight for Therese, who worked on the most efficient line at the company. She loved to see Charlie arrive to fix her line because she knew the work would be done quickly and she could continue her exceptional pace. She also liked seeing him just to see him.
After work one night, a group met at Northfield Bowling Alley for beers. When Charlie announced he was looking for a date to see Frankie Vali, Therese was the first to express an interest. Following that fateful night, they had their first date and soon became a couple. Two years later, on April 9, 1988, they married at Faith Lutheran Church. Therese chose the date, the day before her 30th birthday, because her family often teased her that if she weren’t married by 30, she would be “an old maid.” It was a beautiful Spring day, and the reception that followed at Kosciuszko Hall found the bride and groom and their guests dancing well into the night.
The newlyweds made their first home at 730 Leonard Street NE. Therese enjoyed Charlie’s boys and was honored to be their stepmom. When they became adults, Therese enthusiastically welcomed their loves and children into her family. She was a wonderful grandmother who enveloped her grandchildren with love and pride.
Therese loved children! A kid magnet, like a pied piper, she had a special magnetic essence that children gravitated to. She chose to share her magic by working at Sacred Heart Childcare and as a lead teacher of the before and after school program at Rockford Public Schools for nine years. Fondly known as “TT” by the children in her family and at school, Therese loved seeing her former students and their children while working for ten years as a cashier at Meijer. Every time she heard a customer greet her as “Miss TT,” her heart filled with delight.
From childhood through adulthood, Therese was an avid bowler who enjoyed participating in leagues with sisters and friends. Many great memories were made bowling at Lincoln Lanes, The Clique, and Michigan Lanes. Therese also gave her time as a Rockford Police volunteer, checking on shut-ins and monitoring handicap parking spots.
At home, Therese enjoyed the simple pleasures of working her garden and canning with Charlie. She loved digging the potatoes up with her bare hands and helping Charlie with his special BBQ sauce. They also enjoyed berry picking and camping at State Parks and other terrific destinations. At first, they camped in a pop-up camper before graduating into a travel trailer. Therese’s other passions were rescuing stray cats and cheering on NASCAR #24 Jeff Gordon, the Detroit Lions, and the University of Michigan Wolverines.
Though our days with her were far too few, every moment we shared with Therese is a gift we will long treasure. May our many wonderful memories and the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward provide much comfort as we miss her steadfast companionship. In each moment we greet the day with love and hope in our hearts, willingly give of ourselves in service, cheer on our loved one’s endeavors, gather around a campfire, and take an adventure with our beloved, we celebrate all the ways Therese made the world a better place. In this way, we keep her loving and generous spirit alive and inspiring others as she inspired us.
Therese Jean Foley, age 65, passed away January 23, 2024, with her loving family by her side. Therese was born April 10, 1958, in Grand Rapids to the late Richard and Virginia (Gemmill) Swendroski. She was also preceded in death by her in-laws, James and Helen Foley; brothers-in-law, Paul Zalenski and Richard Rowland; and nephew, Richard Swendroski III. Therese is survived by her husband, Charlie Foley; stepchildren, Charles Foley Jr., Joseph and Kelly Foley; grandchildren, Joe, Ethan, Trevor, Charlie, and Gretchen. She is also survived by her siblings, Lucinda Zalenski, Debby (Daren Brushman) VanDam, Rick Swendroski, Tony and Vicki Swendroski; siblings-in-law, Jim and Nay Foley, Dan and Carol Foley, Theresa and Steve Henderson, Kevin and Chris Foley, Margaret and Doug Metivier; and several nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews.
The family thanks Emmanuel Hospice, Ramona, Shannon, and Tonya for their special care. According to her wishes, cremation has taken place. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, January 27, 2024, at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with family beginning at 10 AM. Memorials may be made to Emmanuel Hospice. To read more of Therese’s Life Story, leave a memory, or sign the guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.