Landmarks 02

Jean (Wade) Foley Doyle

December 16, 1929 ~ April 18, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old
Read more about the life story of Jean and share your memory.    


Jean passed away at her home on Rolfes Lane on April 18th with her loving family at her side and her spring bulbs in bloom.

Jean was born in Newburyport on December 16, 1929, to John E. and Olive M. (Champoux) Wade, weeks after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that ushered in The Great Depression. Jean’s love of history was shaped by living through major events in the 20th century.

Jean was proud to call herself a Newburyport native with a special fondness for her years in Joppa. She loved to recall the years she lived next door to the Emma Andrews Library on Purchase Street where she developed a passion for reading. Jean loved Newburyport and its rich history and would later publish two books celebrating those who made Newburyport a special place to call home.

A graduate of Immaculate Conception School (1943), Jean was the valedictorian of Newburyport High School, Class of 1947. After graduation, Jean worked at Towle Silversmiths.

Like many others of her generation, Jean chose work over college and then quickly settled into her role as wife to Everett J. Foley and mother of 7 children: Dr. James Foley (Rosemary), Sparta, NJ; David  Foley (Charlene), Byfield; Jane Foley Watkins, Newbury; Marcia Foley (Kurt Edmonds), Newburyport; Shane Foley (Melissa), Salisbury; and Mark Foley (Rebecca) of Delray Beach, FL. Jean was predeceased by her beloved son John Foley in 1956.

Jean was predeceased by her husband Everett J. Foley (1986), with whom she enjoyed 38 years of marriage and Joseph P. Doyle (2008), with whom she enjoyed 20 years of marriage. Jean was predeceased by her sister Louise (Wade) Goyetche.

At age 33, Jean began taking courses at Northern Essex Community College and then transferred to Merrimack College. Jean was a 1969 summa cum laude graduate of Merrimack College, earning her bachelor’s degree in history at age 40. Jean later earned her master’s degree from UNH in 1972.

In 1969 she joined the staff of the History Department at NHS, where she was a popular teacher, colleague, department head, mentor, and friend during her 30-year career. At NHS Jean was a Master Teacher.

Jean’s heart belonged in the classroom and her students vividly recall accompanying her to Boston and New York for the Model United Nations symposiums; to Washington, DC for the Close-Up program; and overnight trips to Gloucester for experiential learning exercises with Project Adventure. Jean enjoyed the camaraderie of her fellow teachers. In retirement Jean enjoyed attending the teachers’ luncheons and her NHS reunions.

In 2007 Jean published her first book, Life in Newburyport, 1900 – 1950. A local history best seller, Jean poured her heart into capturing the stories of people who survived WW I and II and the Great Depression. She considered it an honor to tell this story knowing the struggles so many endured. Her ability to chronicle the rise and fall of local political figures and the municipal challenges in a small city brought history alive.

In 2010 Jean published a companion edition, Life in Newburyport: 1950 – 1985. Her second book also focused on common people who accomplished so much with so little, despite great adversity and challenge, not unlike Jean herself. She never considered herself a “writer” but a “recorder” of local history. Always willing to present both sides, Jean thought of her books on Newburyport as a gift to the community and to future generations who would call Newburyport “home.”

Jean’s second book was recognized by the New England Book Festival in 2010.

In 2012, the American Association of State and Local History learned of Jean’s life and work and selected her for a national lifetime achievement award, given only to a select few. In a letter from the selection committee, organization executives wrote, “This is the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history. We congratulate you for the work that has brought this honor.”

In 2015 Jean was the Honoree of the Newburyport Literary Festival and feted for her work as a history teacher at NHS and for authoring the two valuable local history texts. As a “local,” Jean wrote with authority on the personalities that powered the city’s comeback during urban renewal in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

April 25, 2015 was declared Jean Foley Doyle Day by Mayor Donna Holaday in recognition of her years of teaching and her publications.

Jean was a member of the Ladies of Christopher, Great Books, Museum of Ould Newbury, Newburyport Society for the Benevolent Protection of Women, Custom House Maritime Museum, Newburyport Retired Teachers Association, Newburyport Public Library, News & Views, her local book group, and a local writer’s group that provided encouragement during the writing of her two books. Jean served as an incorporator at the Institution for Savings. Jean was a devout Catholic and lifelong member of Immaculate Conception Parish.

Jean was determined to continue to share her wealth of Newburyport history and in conjunction with the local community tv channel wrote, edited, and produced the following documentaries: Newburyport in World War II, Joppa Girls, the Irish in Newburyport, and the French Canadians in Newburyport. All are available on YouTube.

Jean was a physical fitness inspiration, known for her 5-mile power walks up and down High Street and hours spent on the elliptical machine at the gym. Jean believed that exercise gives you energy and never accepted the fact that there are 24 hours in a day.

A devoted gardener, walker, reader and traveler, Jean loved returning to her home and her garden where she found peace and happiness throughout her life. In her later years Jean found much enjoyment in planning gardens, starting with a magnificent display of tulips and daffodils. Local gardens were started from perennials Jean shared from her Low Street and Rolfes Lane gardens.

Jean is survived by 11 grandchildren: Jennifer Foley, Plantation, FL; Amanda Malonoski (John), Philadelphia, PA; Annarose Foley, Binghamton, NY; Ben Watkins (Pam), Middleton, MA; Ashley Foley, Arlington, VA; Jared Foley (Sarah), Andover, MA; Taylor Marden (Dan), Boxford, MA; Ryan Foley, Portsmouth, NH; Shana French (Jay), Glenwood Springs, CO; Brendan Edmonds (Lia), N. Andover, MA; and Kevin Foley (Mary Rogers), Boynton Beach, FL.

Jean is survived by five great-grandchildren: Leni and Maeve Watkins, Naomi Jean and Declan Foley and Serena French.

Jean leaves many nieces and nephews, as well as countless numbers of friends.

At Jean’s request there will be no calling hours. Family and friends are invited to Jean’s Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at Immaculate Conception Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jean’s memory to the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center (

For directions or to offer online condolences please visit


Funeral Mass
April 22, 2023

10:00 AM
Immaculate Conception Church
42 Green Street
Newburyport, MA 01950

Burial following Mass.

St. Mary Cemetery
Storey Avenue
Newburyport, MA 01950

Online Memory & Photo Sharing Event
Online Event

In Loving Memory Of

Jean Foley Doyle

December 16, 1929-April 18, 2023

Look inside to read what others
have shared

Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in the book.   

Online Memory & Photo Sharing Event
Online Event


In Loving Memory Of

Jean Foley Doyle

December 16, 1929-April 18, 2023

Look inside to read what others have shared

Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in the book.   


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