Bakersfield school builder battling cancer honored

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Update: Family confirmed with 17 News that Jeff passed away Wednesday morning.

A Bakersfield school builder battling stage four cancer was honored for his latest project.

As the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District construction facilities manager, Jeff Foy has spent more than 20 years building schools in Kern County–overseeing the construction of nine.

About three and a half years ago, Foy was diagnosed with Carcinoma, a cancer of the tissue lining organs.

Nevertheless, for the past two years as he went in and out of treatment, Foy dedicated his time to board meetings and moving plans forward. He says his latest project, Whitley Elementary School in South Bakersfield, is his life’s greatest accomplishment to date.

People who work with Foy say he’s a man who finishes what he starts, so Whitley will be no exception.

“His gift is working with people, bringing them together, and seeing a project to fruition,” said Dolores Whitley, the woman for whom the school was named. 

Whitley Elementary is scheduled to open on August 17th. Foy’s doctors have given him a realistic outlook about that date, so the grand opening was celebrated about one month early.

“Jeff and I have always said we can hear the kids running through the hallways and the bells ringing,” said Lisa Beasley, who will be Whitley’s first principal.

At the celebration, there were no dry eyes as close to 200 people gathered to watch Foy raise the American flag in the courtyard for the first time. It was a day to recognize what Foy is known for: his humor, leadership, and tenacity.

“Giving back to the community–when you can see what you’ve left behind, what you’re gonna leave behind–there’s nothing better than to be able to watch that grow,” Foy said.

Whitley may be Foy’s final project, but he’ll be immortalized on a soon-to-be-painted mural in the school’s cafeteria for generations to come.

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