Thomas J. Foudy '35, an alumnus and longtime supporter of Saint Mary's College who lived in Tiburon, California, passed away on May 9. He was 93.
"Tom Foudy was one of the last links to the golden era of Saint Mary's football, from 1922 to 1939," said Gary Sabatte, a member of the college's Board of Regents.
Born in Colorado on February 4, 1912, Foudy was recruited to attend Saint Mary's by Brother Agnon Francis. Foudy excelled in communications, first as a student, when he was campus correspondent for the Oakland Tribune and the Oakland Post Enquirer. After graduation, he worked as a publicist for the college's athletics program.
Foudy's principal responsibilities were building gate attendance and stimulating interest in the football team. During one season, a rumor circulated in the sports media that one of the players was dating film star Jean Harlow. The account generated great interest in the team, and Foudy made no effort to squash the rumor. Prior to another game, Foudy encouraged speculation that Coach Madigan might be fired if the Gaels lost to Fordham. The coach was asked about it at length, and the game sold out. On a cross-country road trip, Foudy engineered a publicity stunt: a punt kicked into the Grand Canyon became known as "the punt that traveled a mile."
"It would be wrong to say that Tom spread rumors," said Sabatte. "Rather, he created meaningful reasons to attend games."
Foudy's media savvy led to a job with Warner Brothers' Pictures for 6 years. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy as an aviation radioman. After the war, he spent 30 years working with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Foudy and his wife, Betty, who passed in 1993, included the college in their estate plan, donating their house to establish an endowed chair in communications. A member of the President's Circle, one of the college's premier giving clubs, Foudy made additional contributions over the years to support the restoration of the Saint Mary's College Chapel, Alumni Faculty Fellowship Grants, and the football program.
Foudy is survived by a sister, Catherine Fredrickson, of Colorado; a nephew, James Irwin, of Arizona; three grandnephews; and several cousins. Funeral services were held on May 16, at St. Hillary's Church in Tiburon. The family adds that donations in Foudy's memory may be made to Saint Mary's College, Box 4300, Moraga, CA 94575-4300; (925) 631-4328.
-- Joseph Wakelee-Lynch
Office of College Communications