Robert B. Foley, 25, telephone lineman, saved Donald E. King, 8, from drowning, Bedford, Massachusetts, February 17, 1947. Donald broke through ice on Elm Brook into water eight feet deep 10 feet from the bank and was submerged. Another boy ran for help. Foley, who wore knee-length boots and was heavily clothed, ran 200 feet to the other bank and stepped onto the ice. Finding that the ice was too weak to stand on he lay on it and drew himself 15 feet to the hole Donald had made. Foley was unable to find Donald by reaching into the hole, which was three feet in diameter. He then thrust himself head first into the water and swam to the bottom directly beneath the hole but was unable to find Donald. Foley, rising to the surface for air, decided to look for Donald beneath the ice. He made a surface dive and swam beneath the ice for distances of five feet from the edges of the hole but still could not find him. Again coming to the surface for air, he made another dive and, swimming to the bottom six feet from the hole, found Donald unconscious. Obtaining a hold on Donald, he swam towing him beneath the ice to the hole and rose to the surface. Other men arrived, and one of them stood in wadable water and with a pole broke a path in the ice to the hole. Foley swam with Donald to the man, who was four feet from the bank, and they were aided to the bank. Donald was revived, and he recovered. Foley was chilled and winded.
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Robert B. Foley, age 88 of Quincy, Mass., died at home on Dec. 15, 2009.
Foley was a proud Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He retired in 1984 as a real estate operations manager from New England Telephone Co. after 38 years.
Foley was active in Baker Beach Association in Quincy, a member of the Town River Yacht Club, and a former Commodore at Gulf Point Yacht Club. He was a member of the Commodore Club of America and past Commander of Dorchester V. F. W. Post. He enjoyed wood working and made nautical art, which was shown in local boat shows.
For many years, Foley served on the board of managers for Quincy Cemeteries and on the planning board of Quincy. As one of the founding members of St. Boniface Church, he was responsible for the carnivals the church ran and was asked to participate in the mortgage burning ceremony.
After the heroic effort of diving through ice in Bedford, Mass., in 1947 to save the life of a young boy, Foley received the Carnegie Medal in 1950. New England Telephone Co. also awarded him the Vail Medal in honor of his courage.
(Edited from an obituary in The Patriot Ledger, Dec. 17, 2009.)