SILVER SPRING, Md. – Laurence M. Foley, the U.S. aid worker killed in a possible terrorist attack in Jordan, was remembered Saturday as a big, boisterous man whose humor and mischievous charm won him and his country countless friends.
About 250 people attended a memorial service at a Unitarian Universalist church outside Washington that was marked by more laughter than tears and more talk of his zest for life than his violent death.
"First, he hit you with his humor," said his son, Michael. "Then, when you weren't looking, he'd smack you with his integrity."
Foley, 60, was shot at close range Monday in front of his home in Amman. The gunman escaped. No arrests have been made, but Islamic extremists are suspected.
Before his Jordan assignment, Foley had postings in the Philippines, Bolivia, Peru and Zimbabwe for the U.S. Agency for International Development and, previously, for the Peace Corps
Family and friends took turns describing how Foley loved his travels and his work. He took delight in the people he met, "that humanity came in so many shapes and sizes," said his daughter Megan.
Many recalled how he reveled in the quirky moments in the life of an aid worker: spending a night in a chicken coop to find out why hens were mysteriously dying, eating at a Philippine restaurant built out of an old Elvis Presley airplane or having an elegant Indian man pointed to his freckles and ask, "Is that your desire, or is that a disease?"
Maja Cubarrubia, a diminutive Filipina colleague of Foley's in the Peace Corps, described her constant banter with him: He would tease her about her height, she would tell him to lose weight.
But she said she learned a lot from Foley. He broke down the stereotypes she had about Americans as rich, divorced and arrogant. And she learned about herself.
"Larry taught me through how he lived his life not to just be tolerant of other people — tolerant is not enough. He taught me to accept and celebrate diversity and learn from it," she said. "He taught me to enrich my life by learning about the cultures, the values and habits of those people different from me."
In addition to Michael and Megan, Foley is survived by his wife, Virginia, another daughter, Jeremie, and two grandchildren.