Dr. Peter W. Foley (1961-2016)

In Memoriam

Dr. Peter W. Foley, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Faculty Associate in the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies, as well as the founding director of the UA Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture, passed away on December 13, 2016, after battling brain cancer for a little over a year. He was 55 years old.

Peter Foley grew up in Germany and England, and published both in English and German. He held a B.A. Honours degree from the University of Keele (1985), an M.A. from Northwestern (1986) and a Dr. phil. magna cum laude from the University of Vienna (1990). He taught at the University of Economics in Vienna, and came to the University of Arizona in 1992 where he taught in the German Department (now German Studies) and interdisciplinary studies in the Humanities Program. In 2005 he joined the Religious Studies Program, and in Spring 2008 he was Acting Director of Religious Studies. Through his research and work as the director of the ISRC, he was actively involved in a wide range of units across the University, including Art History, Judaic Studies, and Philosophy. In Fall 2008 he was Canon Symmonds Memorial Scholar at St. Deiniol’s Library in Wales. In Spring 2015, Dr. Foley was elected to the Slater Fellowship at the University of Durham in England, where he was to spend the Fall 2015 semester in residency at Durham Castle and working in the Cathedral Library. Regrettably, the onset of his illness in fall 2015 prevented him from pursuing this prestigious appointment.

A talented and popular professor, Dr. Foley was awarded the Provost’s General Education Teaching Award in 2002. His courses ranged from General Education Courses on “Christianity and Art” and “Early Roots of Christianity” to upper-level and graduate courses on “Celtic Spirituality” and “Religion in the Age of Reason.” He was at the forefront of the University of Arizona’s foray into online education, and was among the first faculty members in the College of Humanities to successfully develop online courses.

The focus of Professor Foley’s work was the history of ideas in philosophy and theological thought. He published books on the Austro-German Catholic theologian and economist Adam Müller (1990) and on the German Reformed and Lutheran theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (2006). For the latter book he was awarded the Adele Mellen Prize for a Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship at the 2006 American Academy of Religion Conference. He also published on Civil Rights for Jews in Germany in 1799 (Theologische Literaturzeitung, 2001), Schleiermacher’s Romantic Philosophy (Das neue Licht der Frühromantik, 2009). He had an accepted article on Jeremy Collier’s Desertion Discuss’d of 1688 (Festschrift for Susan Karant-Nunn, forthcoming). At the time of his death, he was completing two manuscripts; an edition of Nonjuror pamphlets c. 1688-1695 concerning Anglican schism; and a second manuscript a contextualized edition of the influential Nonjurors’ liturgy of 1718.

Tireless in his outreach and community involvement, Dr. Foley bridged many local and international communities. A member of Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, he was active in the Tucson Episcopal Community, including the Episcopal Campus Ministry and giving lectures at St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. He also enjoyed his activities with the Emerald Isle Society. He was a well-known and welcome scholar at the Herzog August Bibliothek, an international research institute, in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, where he spent many happy and productive summers.

In addition to his scholarly activities and university duties, Peter was also an avid runner, bicyclist, and horseman. He will always be remembered for his ready wit, his warmth and kindness, and the joy with which he embraced life up until the very end. He leaves behind many grateful colleagues, students, and friends. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Pia Cuneo (UA Professor of Art History), and by his parents, three siblings, and five nephews.

A memorial service is being planned for April at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. More details will be forthcoming.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture at the University of Arizona Foundation. 

All donations to the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture at the University of Arizona Foundation are tax deductible.

If you prefer to mail a donation, checks (made payable to “UA Foundation/Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture”) can be sent to:

Gennady Sare, Business Manager
ISRC, Learning Services Bldg. 203
The University of Arizona
PO Box 210105
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0105