Joe's Obituary

This a small attempt to trace an outline of Joe's life and I hope that, as people will visit, they will add their piece of history and experience with Joe.


Joseph Foley Memorial Site


Joseph Christopher Foley  was born in the London east end during the Blitzes. He always retained a love for his cockney origins even if he did reside in different places most of his life.

After rebellious formative years in which he was excommunicate from the communion of the Catholic Church, he seemed to be finding a home and a career in the British Army. He was first a crack troops member and he saw live action in many war-zones from jungles to deserts. He was the only survivor of an ambush and was badly wounded in his right shoulder. He resumed active service as a drill sergeant and eventually retired at the end of his enrolment period because of misgivings about the scope and methods of the British intervention in North Ireland. He had spent 20 years in the armed forces.

In spite of his soul searching he was for all his life a stalwart supporter of the Army and managed to see old comrades nearly every “Remembrance Days” years in and years out.

During this period he married but the union was not blessed, as Joe was travelling extensively for tour duties and the relationship eventually terminated with Joe’s “30 second divorce”. A practice he always promoted as a panacea for long and protracted family disputes.

After he left his military career he found employment as a strong man for a local London gangster. He was a loyal and trusted aid until his employer death (by natural causes). He then worked for an international gang driving stolen luxury cars that have been fraudulently "re-legalised" abroad to the Netherlands. It was a good time for him but but eventually the gang was "busted" when the team that stole the vehicles was caught red handed and narrowly avoided arrest.

In spite of his luck his activities in the old-fashion-crime underworld unnerved his family so much that they rejected him. The only exception was an Australia emigrated sister.

To her she turned for help and support at the end of this period.

He travelled to Australia for a year and he always considered this one of the happiest period of his life.

He found employment with then brother-in-law, installing swimming pools for Australian burgeoning "nouveau riches".

In typical Joe style, he completely neglected to sort out his immigration status (he was entitled to a full resident permit because of his family connections, at least at the time).

So when he defended his sister against some domestic violence and manhandled his brother-in-law the latter reported him to the immigration services.

In 24hrs Joe was back in a cold rainy day in London.

 Things than started to go downhill for him.

He drank way too much. Held a string of menial jobs (including one as a grave digger!) and eventually ended up homeless.

His life in the street lasted a couple of years but he always remembered those times and the experiences he learned. Much of his humanity and compassion derived from it.

He managed well due his military training and even pulled a couple of heists in difficult conditions. In an occasion he was rightly arrested for a burglary to some golf club premises  and spent time in prison waiting for the trial but was then absolved. But eventually his luck run out and  in a tight corner "headbutted" a cop and was caught.

He spent a year in jail (his lack behaviour made it so that he had no early release) and when got out he “pulled himself” together.

Managed to work for a couple of years as a roadie for a well known rock band. He got involved in the London Anti-Fascist movement and took part in many street demonstrations. He went abroad, in Holland, for a while and back in London ended up working for the Transport and General Worker Union, had a brief spell in the Labour Party and he was set for a career in the union.

Then things, how so often happened with him, changed again.

He got involved with the newly founded Anti-apartheid Picket in Trafalgar Square. Gave up his job to help the campaign and he is fondly remembered  by Norma Kitson (the original instigator of the picket) in her memoirs “Where Sixpence Lives”.

A year later Joe came to live in the Kinglake Estate. The place where he would reside for the next 25 years, in fact for the rest of his life. Here he became a central figure of the local community.

Joe was involved in the squatting movement there and when eventually won the right to a tendency in the flat he occupied, he took in as co-tenant Phil Backer, an old army mate down on his lack.

Phil was one of the people that did not repaid Joe’s kindness and left him a year later with lots of debts he never attempted to repay.

In the many years that he spent on Kinglake there are innumerable anecdotes about Joe and his house was, until his final illness, much of a community place were people came and went, where Christmas were a time when otherwise lonely people, would come together and rejoice.

Joe’s place was a space where the society non-conformists could find each other.

The last year was marred by illness, long hospital stays and disability. Shamefully an old acquaintance, a woman  he gave home to when she was in a difficult period, Kersten Christgau, took advantage of his situation and stole from him. His dismay was tempered by his many other loyal friends that stuck with him.

In particular he was comforted by Rhy (she risked her life to help him) and Lenny that helped him unselfishly.

Joe had many women and a son.

Joe Foley is remembered by the many friends, whose life he touched, often helping at moments of weakness and need and that are now spread all over the world.