Donald L. Foley, a professor emeritus in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the founding faculty members of that department, died peacefully at home on January 27 under hospice care. Born in 1916, he was seven months short of his 100th birthday.
During his more than 25 years in the Department of City and Regional Planning, Foley both influenced the direction of the department and was influential in his field. He retired from the University in 1979 and was awarded the Berkeley Citation the following year. Allan Jacobs’ letter to Chancellor Bowker, recommending Foley for the Citation, noted both his “distinguished achievement in his own field of expertise” and his “notable service to the university in areas other than teaching and research”.
Foley brought a social science perspective and methodology to the emerging field of city planning. His teaching and research interests included urban social and demographic analysis, metropolitan regional structure, metropolitan planning, social survey research methodology, and social aspects of transportation and housing policies. In addition to his teaching and publishing career, he served as chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning from 1964-67 and from 1974-77, as well as serving on numerous campus committees.
Foley’s distinguished publishing career focused primarily in urban sociology and British Town Planning. His publications include Controlling London’s Growth: Planning the Great Wen and Governing the London Region: Re-organization and Planning in the 1960’s. During sabbaticals spent in London, he was a visiting scholar at the London School of Economics and the Centre for Urban Studies in London.
Foley was born on August 22, 1916, in Hamilton, New York. His father was a professor of sociology at Colgate University, where Foley earned his A.B. degree in Sociology and Political Science in 1938 before performing post-graduate work in public administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and earning his M.A. in Sociology at the University of Chicago.
Foley served as a Supply Officer in the Navy during WWII. Post-war he spent a year as a planning analyst for the City of St. Louis, earned a PhD in Sociology from Washington University in St. Louis in 1948, and was as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Rochester. In July 1953 Foley was hired by Jack Kent as a lecturer in the fledgling Department of City and Regional Planning at Berkeley and promptly moved his family to California for the start of the Fall semester.
After retiring, Foley was one of several individuals who laid the groundwork for the UCB Emeriti Association. His devoted long-time membership in the ‘Little Thinkers’ Friday luncheon group in the Faculty Club stretched from 1955 until just a month before his death.
Always a lover of books, Foley took an active interest in the university library, College of Environmental Design Library, and the University of California Press. After retirement, he ran a business for twelve years, Donald L. Foley Books, that specialized in out-of-print university press books, and in later years he volunteered at the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library bookstore. Foley and his wife Katharine donated the Donald and Katharine Foley Collection of Penguin Paperbacks to the Bancroft Library in 1998, a 2,354-item collection illustrating the history and evolution of Penguin publishing.
Foley married Katharine Averill in 1941; they celebrated their 73rd anniversary in 2014. He was predeceased in 2015 by wife Katharine, son Tom, and great-grandson Auden, and in 1983 by son Bill. He is survived by daughters Margot Sheffner of Berkeley and Judy Foley of San Ramon, daughters-in-law Carol Cahill of Port Townsend and Linda Foley of Irvine, 11 grandchildren and step-grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. He was an avid genealogist who took great pleasure in serving as the historian for family and friends.