Edward ëReedí Finlay Jr., 72, of Hendersonville, N.C., died Saturday, May 26, 2012 after an unexpected illness, complicated by Parkinsonís disease. Known to many as ëBig Rí, he was a husband, father, friend, peripatetic peregrinator, teacher and coach.
Born in Columbia, S.C., Finlay graduated from Christ School and The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. He earned a masterís degree in English from the University of South Carolina and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Georgia. Finlay was an avid learner of foreign languages and studied abroad in Italy, France, Spain and Germany throughout his lifetime.
Finlay was an English teacher for 40 years, having held positions at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Va., The Lovett School in Atlanta, Ga., and Christ School in Arden, N.C. He retired from teaching in 2006. In addition to teaching, Finlay coached track and cross-country teams at his respective schools during his tenure. He led Christ School to an NCISAA state championship in track and field in 1990. Upon his retirement he assisted with coaching runners at Hendersonville High School. For many years he served as a high school basketball official with associations in North Carolina and Virginia.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Finlay had a passion for travel. He and his wife Lucretia visited Europe countless times, often leading groups of students and adults on tours of both celebrated and undiscovered locales. Finlay led student tours to Jackson Hole, Wyo. and New York City, as well as to France and Spain for a partial recreation of Jake Barnesí travels in Ernest Hemingwayís The Sun Also Rises, which featured running with the bulls in Pamplona. He was an opera enthusiast and visited opera houses abroad and in the U.S. and led tours to opera performances. Over the years, Sanpolo, Italy became a favorite destination. Finlay also had a love for the American West, where he spent several family vacations. In February, he and his wife spent six weeks on Oahu, HI.
Finlay was a member of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Flat Rock where he taught youth Sunday school and led education trips, served on the vestry and participated in the annual Christmas pageant.
Finlay was preceded in death by his parents Edward Reed Finlay Sr. and Claudia Knowlton Finlay.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Lucretia deLoach Finlay; son Edward Reed Finlay III and his wife Rebecca Ann Huntington and their son, Kershaw Cache Finlay of Jackson, Wyo.; daughter Lucretia Finlay Stargell and her husband James Bishop Stargell and their daughters Stenna Reed Stargell and Emily Edwards Grey Stargell of Bryson City, N.C.; son Douglas Knowlton Finlay, and his wife Lori Brown Finlay and their children Claudia Pearson Finlay and Douglas Reed Finlay of Chattanooga, Tenn.; also a sister Caroline Finlay Meyer and her husband D. Swing Meyer of Columbia, S.C.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at St. John in the Wilderness. The Rev. John Morton will officiate. The family will receive friends in the parish hall immediately following the service.
Memorials may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County, P.O. Box 1460, Hendersonville, N.C. 28793 or the Youth Sunday School at St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church, 1905 Greenville Highway, P.O. Box 185, Flat Rock, N.C. 28731.