Lacey Renae Foy, 8, of Lakebay, had an infectious zest for life that touched her community, school, church and loved ones. She died March 21, following several days on life support after a swimming accident (see “Lakebay Girl Drowns,” KP News, April 2018).
“She had a love for swimming,” said Sydney Edison, Lacey’s stepmother, from the dais of the Grace Presbyterian Church at a celebration of Lacey’s life on April 14. “She always had her backpack with her swimsuit and towel, always ready to go to the pool. She loved taking swimming and climbing lessons at the Y.” Edison read aloud from a thank-you letter that the gift of Lacey’s corneas restored sight to a grateful 7-year-old girl and a 55-year old man. “All she knew was how to love everyone.”
“In our line of work, you don’t always know the impact that you’re going to have on children and you’re not always prepared for the impact they will have on you,” said Evergreen Elementary School Principal Hugh Maxwell, who spoke at the service.
Another of many Evergreen staff who spoke at the memorial, occupational therapist Jan Yerex shared how Lacey was known for her exuberance, but also for her deep desire to be connected with others. “When she met you in the hall, she had a habit of trying to figure out how she matched you in some way, like ‘We’re boot buddies’ or ‘You’ve got a pony tail too! We’re the same.’”
Yerex commented about what a hugger Lacey was—so much so it was called a “Laceybug hug.” She had a tendency to want to kiss and hug all the staff. “We worked hard on appropriate school greetings, but Lacey would always get her hugs in,” Yerex said. Lacey’s optimism shined through even if she didn’t have the best of days, when she would say, “Tomorrow I’m going to do better,” or “Tomorrow is going to be the best day ever!”
Kristina Butorac, a para-educator at Evergreen, read from a student’s letter: “Lacey was my best friend and I really miss her. She always gave me hugs. Lacey was the first friend I cared about and loved. If I could tell Lacey one more thing, it would be that I love her very much.”
The love for Lacey is apparent in the giant bulletin board just inside the entrance at Evergreen. Plastered with pink paper, “Lacey’s Wall” features a joyous photo taken of her with outstretched arms on a field trip to the beach last year. A banner, in her own words, claims, “It’s going to be the best day ever!” Filling out the wall of honor are handwritten notes from staff and students. Two weeks after Lacey’s death, Bette McCord, office manager at Evergreen, reflected on how hard Lacey’s death has been on everyone at the school. “It’s still hard not to cry,” she said.
On an easel at the service stood an oil painting by local artist Tweed Meyer, commissioned by an Evergreen parent volunteer who “felt deeply inspired by Lacey’s completely genuine nature. Lacey lived entirely in the moment; she made that moment beautiful.” In honor of Lacey, the painting will hang at Evergreen.
“Paintings don’t always work out like this, but there was something so special about this whole thing; my heart was in it—I’ve lost my own son—I could feel it,” Meyer said. “With life as in art, you give birth to it, you have to believe it has a soul and will go out into the world and be where it is supposed to be. Otherwise you’d never let it go.”
As Lacey was a shining light at school and in the community, she was a special kind of strength to her family. The family’s pastor, Dan Whitmarsh of Lakebay Community Church, stayed close to Lacey and her family at the hospital during Lacey’s last days and officiated at the memorial service. He remembers hearing from her father, Adam Foy, how he felt so lost when Lacey’s younger sister died of cancer four years ago. He told Whitmarsh he’d stopped attending church altogether.
“It was Lacey herself that got them all to come to church again,” Whitmarsh said. He was told Lacey had gone to church with a friend one Sunday and arrived home singing the songs and saying, “I want to go to church. We should all go to church!”
“They showed up at our church picnic last summer and have pretty much been coming ever since. She really wanted to be involved,” Whitmarsh said.
Whitmarsh said the family has a solid support system that combines help from the Lakebay Community Church, Evergreen Elementary, the crew at the bus barn and the general peninsula community. There are people who care about this family, even people they may never meet, he said. “When tragedy happens here, the Key Peninsula rallies to help.”
UNDERWRITTEN BY NEWSMATCH/MIAMI FOUNDATION, THE ANGEL GUILD, ROTARY CLUB OF GIG HARBOR, ADVERTISERS, DONORS AND PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS