'It's such an honor to have Jim's work here': Marquette University’s Raynor Library is new home to James Wright Foley Archives Collection

NOW: ’It’s such an honor to have Jim’s work here’: Marquette University’s Raynor Library is new home to James Wright Foley Archives Collection

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Included in the 14 physical boxes and 10 terabytes of digital material that make up the James Wright Foley Archives Collection at Marquette University are Jim Foley's personal writings.  In one, his first words were "prison is a world of small miracles."

"It was written when he was in Libya," said Diane Foley, Jim's mother.

In 2011, Diane Foley's son and two other journalists were taken captive in Libya by Muammar Qaddafi's regime.

"We didn't know if he'd ever come home," she said. But then came a phone call to the Foley home in New Hampshire. "I couldn't believe it was his voice," Diane recalled.

It was Jim calling from Libya.

"And the following week he was home for his sister's graduation. So, the whole thing was a true miracle. It was a miracle and I think Jim felt that too," Diane recalled.

Diane and her husband, Dr. John Foley, attended a recent event at Marquette's Raynor Library where their son's collection will be available to students, aspiring and current journalists and anyone curious about Jim's life and work.

"I hope it'll keep Jim's spirit of moral courage alive," she said.

"I'm inspired that so many people are going to benefit from Jim's sacrifice," said Tom Durkin. Tom and Jim were best friends during their time at Marquette University.

"He didn't talk about himself. He talked to you and he like, listened to you and he asked you questions. So, it wasn't surprising to me that he wanted to be a storyteller, to learn your story and to be able to tell them," said Tom.

After holding onto years of his correspondence with Jim and suitcases filled with items he'd gotten from Jim's parents, Durkin reached out to archivists at Marquette to preserve the writings.

"He wrote most of this while being detained and he snuck it out. And we learned later he snuck it out in his shoe," said Durkin.

I interviewed Jim Foley in 2011 when he returned to Marquette to thank his alma mater for its support during his 44 days in captivity. He told me about the phone call he made to his mom from prison.

"She could hear in my voice that I was okay, like physically I was strong and emotionally I was doing okay," James said at the time.

And of the candlelight vigil for him at Marquette he watched online that included a touching speech from his dear friend Tom.

"Marquette rallied around me. Had the faith and the sense of community to constantly help keep me in the media," James said in that interview.

When asked if she feared Jim would return to harm's way Diane said, "I was afraid he would because he had told us that he had found his passion. 'Mom this is what I'm meant to do!'"

A year after his Marquette visit and while covering the civil war in Syria, Jim was kidnapped and tortured by ISIS terrorists who beheaded him two years later.  

"Jim challenges me… Jim really does. He challenges me.  It's like he handed the torch to me in the many ways... and [also] to his dear friends and colleagues, fellow journalists."

This torch-bearing mother founded and is president of the James W. Foley legacy foundation. The non-profit works to secure the freedom of Americans held captive aboard, prevent future hostage-taking and promote journalist safety.

"More than 122 innocent Americans have come home and that's Jim's powerful legacy in my opinion" said Diane.

Durkin is the foundation's education program director.  

"I think us knowing that Jim's legacy, that Jim's desire to be a voice for others is going to inspire future generations. it reminds us there is a silver lining," said Durkin.

Diane foley's new book, American Mother, was released last March. It opens with riveting details of her face-to-face meeting three years ago with one of the terrorists convicted of helping to kill her son.

"Jim would have wanted me to [do that]. I knew that," recalled Diane. "Jim would have wanted to hear his story and as a mom, I wanted him to know who Jim was."

In a federal courthouse in Virginia, this nurse practitioner, devout Catholic and mother of five, sat across the table from shackled prisoner Alexanda Kotey.

"He expressed a lot of remorse over the course of the three days we spoke," she said.

Under a plea bargain that spared his life, the British-born Islamic State fighter agreed to meet with family members of his victims. 

"It was healing. It was a good thing. But I couldn't have done it without Jim and my faith in God," said Diane.

"I would prefer that it was Jim doing this work, but in my own way I am trying. In my imperfect way do what I like to think he would have wanted to do with the rest of his life," she said.


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