The Heroines

Donna Foley Farley

is honored with a Brick from Jim Farley.


Donna Isabelle Foley was born on September 9, 1930, the fourth of five children born to John and Mary Kingsley Foley. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Wellington, Kansas. She was a member of this parish all of her life until her death on June 10, 1990.

Donna attended St. Anthony's Grade School and was a member of its first graduating class in 1944. She completed her formal education when she graduated from Wellington High School in 1948. Following graduation, she worked for two years for Dr. Hatcher at the Hatcher Hospital in Wellington.

On July 24, 1949, she married Louie Farley. Theirs was the last wedding in the old St. Anthony Church. They moved to a farm in the Rome, Kansas, area where they began their life together in a house without electricity but bright with love. For most of their almost 41 years of marriage, they lived about three miles east of Rome.

In 1950 with the birth of their first son Jim, Donna began her career as a mother. It was a career that she excelled at and that was to last 40 years and 17 days. All of the children who followed Margaret, Roger, Mark, Stephen, Gary, Dennis, Catherine Farley Giefer, Laura Farley Willoughby, Diane, and Darren were greeted with joy. Like the beads on her rosary, her favorite devotion, these children were a blessing to her.

Donna's first priority was her family, and she accepted the necessity of hard decisions that kept her family number one. In spite of the many duties that filled her day, duties like hanging out laundry and cooking and cleaning the old farmhouse they rented, she made time to read to her children. They delighted in her expressive voice as she narrated favorite and new stories. She enjoyed playing games with her children and later grandchildren. She was ever resourceful, an attribute necessitated by her life in the country, often without transportation.

Donna loved her life in the country the smell of lilacs and freshly mowed grass, the golden wheat fields at harvest, the cool evening breeze. She had a talent for making every day special. She made a picnic out of taking meals to the fields during harvest; she celebrated Saturday nights with popcorn and homemade fudge. In addition, favorite recipes from her kitchen helped mark the many birthdays of the Farley clan as well as the seasons (vegetable soup and cinnamon rolls were made at the first snow; peanut clusters were made for Christmas).

Education was a major focus in her life as she was actively involved in the PTAs in her children's schools. Much to her surprise and delight, she was honored at her last PTA meeting in 1988 as an honorary lifetime member. In November of 1990, she was posthumously honored with the Friends of Education award by the NEA and Wellington Board of Education.

Donna was a good friend to many. Her patience, her ability to listen without judging, her inclination to offer advice only when asked, her unfailing support in times of trouble all endeared her to friends and the daughters and sons she gained through the marriages of her children.

When Donna was diagnosed with melanoma in 1982, she revealed herself to be a fighter as well. She kept her worries to herself, encouraging her family to think positively as she had the tumor removed. She rejoiced at each subsequent visit to the doctor's when the tests came back negative because those results meant more time with her family. In the intervening years between the initial diagnosis and the later reappearance of the disease, Donna walked miles praying the rosary for whatever tests her children faced, delighted in the births of grandchildren, danced to Glenn Miller tunes, and finally, moved into a brand new home. She lived not in fear of life, but delighted in its beauty and promise, accepted its uncertainties, and transformed her lot with humor, graciousness, and hope.

Submitted by Jim Farley

September 11, 1998