Paul Finn Sr., A Man of Class, Compassion and Courage

Paul Finn Sr. left us last week.

He fought the incredibly good fight. He did what a man was supposed to do over the course of his life.

He was a husband and a father.

He was a Marine Officer.

He worked hard to provide his family a life of prosperity and joy.

He displayed courage in a time that no parent should ever have to endure, and built a legacy for a son who carried the Finn name with integrity, just like his dad had taught him.

Paul died this past May 2, weeks short of his 80th birthday. The obituary will say he left a loving wife, Laurie, as well as beautiful children and adorable grandchildren.

6116_10151173482476946_696471130_nPaul Finn Sr. (back row, fourth from right) and wife Laurie (standing to Paul’s right) at the Paul Finn Jr. Memorial Wrestling Tournament, along with many family and friends.

It will say Paul also had two sisters and a brother who will grieve for their sibling.

But there’s so much more to this man, starting with a highly successful business career which included sitting on the Board of Directors at Dean Witter Reynolds.

After raising his family in Millburn, Paul, a graduate of Fordham University, would build a beautiful home in Morristown.

While he had enjoyed success and prosperity in business, he also battled the emotional anguish of his son, Paul’s, sudden passing in 1999 at the age of just 39. Paul was a NJSIAA heavyweight wrestling champion at Millburn in 1978 and was in the midst of a successful career when he passed away.

Five years after Paul’s death, the first Paul J. Finn Jr. Memorial Wrestling Tournament took place at Millburn High School, on Jan 24, 2004.

I remember it well, for so many reasons. At the time, I was doing some sports writing at the Star-Ledger. My editor, Bruce Moran, had asked me to cover the Finn Tournament on that Saturday, and since I was the main guy for Essex County wrestling back then, it seemed like a relatively routine assignment.

Two days prior to the tournament, my father had died after a long illness. Bruce had called me on the Friday before the tournament to express condolences and offered to have someone else cover the Finn tourney.

I wanted to work it, since the funeral had been held on Jan. 23 and there wasn’t much I could do, anyway, so off I went to Millburn High.

Shortly, after arriving at the tournament, I was introduced to Paul Finn Sr. We talked for a few minutes and Paul got a little emotional about what the day was meaning to him, as the wrestling community gathered to honor his son.

There was a stirring video played during the tournament about Paul Jr.’s incredible rise to the state championship in ’78, a video that continues to be played at the annual tournament.

Having felt numb walking in, Paul’s energy and charisma quickly made me forget any personal pain I was feeling.

It wasn’t until years later, after developing a friendship with Paul and Laurie, that I felt comfortable explaining to them how I had felt that day.

Anyway, as the years progressed, I was always at the Finn Tournament, usually covering it for the Ledger. Even after I left the paper in late 2012, I still attended the following year, not only because it was a newsworthy event for me to write about for other outlets, but because spending the day with the Finns, on that specific Saturday in January, had become tradition.

Laurie once told me that she and Paul considered me a part of their family, words that will forever echo in my life with gratitude and extreme humbleness.

Paul’s health began to wane in the past year, and Laurie, a woman of incredible strength and dignity, indicated that the health challenges Paul faced were beginning to wear down the ‘Big Guy’.

But to the end, Paul Finn Sr. battled like a man does. With outer strength and the knowledge that God’s Will will provide him a place for eternal joy.

“I miss him so much,” Laurie wrote me in an e-mail over the weekend, after breaking the news of Paul’s passing.

Moran, who knew the Finn family for many years, said it well.

“Now, (Paul Sr.) can join his son,” Bruce said. “God Bless them both.”

The Finn family will celebrate their patriarch’s life early this coming week. It’s a celebration, because Paul Finn’s life was about family and commitment, along with a lot of laughter.

The walls of Paul and Laurie’s house are filled with photos of the entire family during annual summer vacations. The photos were done with precision and a lot of thought, because Paul and Laurie knew that a family should have memories to share for a lifetime.

Those photos depict pure joy and radiance. And it’s why, when the family gathers to say thank you to Paul, as well as laugh and cry, they will be buoyed by the spirit of the Big Guy.

Thank you, Paul, for reasons I probably can never fully explain.

Thank you for being such a nice part of my life. I will never forget you.

Paul enjoyed a long and successful career on Wall Street, serving as both a partner and managing director at L.F. Rothchild Unterberg & Towbin and as a senior vice president and member of the board of directors at Dean Witter Reynolds.
Paul finished his career as a senior vice president at AMBAC Indemnity Corporation, where he was also a member of the Management Committee. Paul was an officer in many professional financial organizations and a frequent participant on the industry panels. – See more at: http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?n=paul-joseph-finn&pid=170912385&fhid=27031#sthash.VtOWTRzg.dpuf
Paul enjoyed a long and successful career on Wall Street, serving as both a partner and managing director at L.F. Rothchild Unterberg & Towbin and as a senior vice president and member of the board of directors at Dean Witter Reynolds.
Paul finished his career as a senior vice president at AMBAC Indemnity Corporation, where he was also a member of the Management Committee. Paul was an officer in many professional financial organizations and a frequent participant on the industry panels. – See more at: http://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?n=paul-joseph-finn&pid=170912385&fhid=27031#sthash.VtOWTRzg.dpuf

 

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By mike051893

2 comments on “Paul Finn Sr., A Man of Class, Compassion and Courage

  1. Mike, while surfing the Internet for the results of this year’s Paul J. Finn Jr wrestling tournament, I found this beautiful article you wrote after Paul Sr. had passed away. I knew the Finn family, often attended the wrestling tournament when I lived in the area and was a freshman wrestler at Millburn the year Paul won the NJ state championship. I really appreciate the warmth and personal feelings you incorporated into his article. And I was sorry to read you had lost your father, but very strong of you to follow through with your reporting assignment that year. You obviously meant a lot to the Finn family as well as the tournament and I can understand why! Thank you once again for this nice article about Paul Sr., who was one of the nicest and most honorable person that I have ever met. Sincerely, Johan Beyer

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