James Foley

Journalist James Foley of Rochester was killed in 2014 in Syria.

Rochester’s community center is being renamed for freelance war correspondent James Foley, who was killed by ISIS in Syria in 2014.

Mayor Caroline McCarley said Foley “was a phenomenal journalist who really tried to give a voice to people caught in war-torn regions across the world and has been just a huge credit to the world of journalism, and to American journalism, and to freedom.”

McCarley said Tuesday’s city council meeting that city officials are delighted to be able to honor Foley in this way.

Foley’s parents lived in Rochester for 25 years. They now reside in Wolfeboro, where he grew up.

Foley worked as a journalist in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. He was held captive for nearly two years before being killed by ISIS in Syria on Aug. 19, 2014.

Diane Foley said Wednesday that when her son was killed, the Rochester community stood by her family. She said the family is touched by the renaming of the community center, which houses a food pantry as well as a clothing and thrift store.

“I love the community center there because there’s lots of good people doing great things to help,” Foley said. “To me, it’s symbolic of Jim’s love for the underdog and wanting to promote that kind of goodness.”

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation moved from downtown Rochester to Portsmouth this past November because of some attempted break-ins at the office. Foley said leaving the city was difficult for her.

“This is just a gift because it allows us to continue that connection with the community,” she said.

A socially distanced dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held May 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the community center on Wakefield Street.

Foley said the foundation will continue to host an annual fall walk and run in Rochester.

The foundation advocates for the freedom of all Americans being held hostage abroad. According to its website, there are currently 48 publicly disclosed hostage and wrongful detention cases being monitored.

The foundation has also developed journalist safety curricula for undergraduate and graduate schools to better prepare college students for the dangers they may encounter while on the job.

For more information, go to www.jamesfoleyfoundation.org.

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