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Faces of COVID: He spent his life bringing joy to children across central Indiana

Children's entertainer dies of COVID-19
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Posted at 8:16 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 20:16:52-05

Thousands of Hoosiers have died since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020 and we know — they're more than just numbers. If you've lost a loved one to COVID-19 and want to share their story reach out to us at FacesOfCovid@wrtv.com.

When you walk into the Foley house in Franklin, it feels like Christmas no matter what time of year it is.

The Christmas tree stays lit in the corner, surrounded by Santa Claus figurines, snow globes, nutcrackers, ‘North Pole’ signs, and pictures of the couple who live here.

Stacey Foley and her husband, Jerry, portrayed Santa and Mrs. Claus at events around central Indiana for years.

According to Stacey, it all started when Jerry started growing out his mustache.

“Then he grew the goatee and it looked nice on him. Then we decided to possibly play Santa Claus so he grew the full beard. and that’s how it started,” said Stacey.

The magic didn’t stop after the holidays. When Santa Claus was no longer needed for events, Jerry would transform into Mr. Mystic the Magician.

“He loved to entertain children. Children were his passion. Whether he was portraying Santa Claus in December or performing magic or balloon twisting,” said Stacey.

There’s an entire room in their house completely devoted to Jerry’s passions. When you walk in, there are shelves filled from floor to ceiling with props, crafts, balloons, cards… anything you could imagine a magician might need.

Jerry and Stacey were first married in 1987, and she became his Magician's Assistant. Their daughter helping when the show went on the road.

The couple divorced for several years and then re-married in 2011.

“He was the love of my life and God put us back together for a reason. And I’m sure glad he did,” said Stacey, “He was just one of the sweetest men in the world. I was proud to call him my husband.”

In July of 2020, Jerry, Stacey and their daughter all started to feel unwell. They each went and got a COVID-19 test and were positive for the virus.

Jerry became very ill.

“At the end, Jerry was just struggling to breathe and he didn’t want to go to the hospital so he didn’t," Stacey said. "I don’t know if that would’ve helped save him or not. Probably not. He was pretty far gone, breathing wise it was really bad."

The 61-year-old passed away in his home from a heart attack caused by his COVID-19.

Stacey says she missed Jerry every day, but she knows in her heart that his show isn’t really over and that one day, she’ll be assisting him again.

“I just loved him so much and I miss him so much. I do know one day we’ll be together again. Because I know where he is. He’s doing magic for Jesus,” said Stacey.

MORE STORIES | We're honoring the memories of these Hoosiers who died with COVID-19

You can read Jerry's obituary below.

Jerry Foley, 61, of Franklin, Indiana went home to be with Jesus on July 26th, 2020. Jerry was born on October 11th, 1958 in Martinsville, Indiana. He served for the U.S. Army and National Guard for 12 years after graduating high school. He was a member of the Gateway Cowboy Church in Trafalgar Indiana.

Those who knew Jerry couldn’t help but smile whenever they were around him. He lived his life to bring joy and happiness to everyone he met. He was a member of the Hoosier Santa’s and spent every Christmas season for the past several years entertaining families and children through holiday cheer as Santa Claus with his wife Stacey And daughter Kristi. When Christmas season was over he spent the remainder of the year performing magic shows and balloon twisting at birthday parties all over the state. He performed some the of most amazing magic tricks and always made sure to include ways to share his love for Jesus in them as well! When asked “How did you do that?” His response every time “Very Well!” He was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians.

He was preceded in death by his mother Barbara Richardson and his father Marvin Foley. He is survived by his wife Stacey Foley, Daughter Kristi Foley, sons Kyle and Toby Foley, sister Tammie Smith, stepmother Nancy Foley, two stepsisters Stephanie Marshall and Twyla Manning, and several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Thank you Jerry for all the joy you have brought everyone. We only hope heaven enjoys your magic shows as much as we all have!