STEVE MOCARSKY email@example.com
HAZLE TWP. – Extend your hand to this former U.S. Marine, and you’ll get a firm shake and a smile as he introduces himself as Billy Jack Foley.
Get to know him, and you’ll soon admire his sense of adventure.
After all, it’s not too many 81-year-olds who want to spend their birthdays jumping from a single-engine plane 10,000 feet above the earth.
But that’s how William John Foley, of the Lyndwood section of Hanover Township, spent part of his birthday on Sunday – performing a tandem sky dive with Above the Poconos Skydivers at the Hazleton Municipal Airport.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I was that high,” Foley said, extending his hand out about four feet above the ground.
“I joined the Marine Corps to do this, but they disbanded it in 1946. And I joined in 1946. But my wife was pregnant with our seventh kid when I went the first time down in New Jersey and I loved it. Instead of playing golf, I would sneak out and do it once in a while,” Foley said.
Sunday, he said, would be his third official jump.
Having spent most of his 37 years at the former Scranton Tribune as a printer and the last five years as an ad salesman until he and his fellow employees were all laid off about 19 years ago, Foley said he has spent much of his free time enjoying golf and occasional trips to Canada for some hunting and fishing.
Foley’s son, Bill Jr., 56, alerted the newspaper about his father’s jump.
“He did it years ago, and my mom said that if he did it again, she’d divorce him. She passed away 10 years ago, so he just decided he wanted to do it. He actually wanted to do it last year for his 80th, but it was raining. My only question was, ‘Is your life insurance paid?’ ” the younger Foley joked.
Neither of Foley’s two children who were present for the jump said they were worried for their dad’s safety.
“I’m totally confident in everything he does. He’s a big boy, he does what he wants to do. He always did,” Foley Jr. said.
Megan Golobek, 40, of the Lee Park section of Hanover Township, said her father’s idea to sky-dive on his birthday was “absolutely fabulous. He’s 81, he deserves to do pretty much anything that he wants to do. I wish he would do it every weekend,” Golobek said.
The youngest of seven, Golobek noted that her father actually delivered her at birth.
“The doctor said, come on, Bill, you’ve seen it enough times, so why don’t you do it? There’s a picture of my dad delivering me, so I feel special because of that,” she said.
Calling Foley a great dad and a very hard worker, Golobek said her dad “lost everybody in his life” other than his twin sister, Patti Foley, who lives in Arizona, and checked in by cell phone to make sure her brother landed safely.