Finnin, Sr., William M.


Born on November 13, 1914 in New Orleans, “Bill” Finnin grew up in the Irish Channel District of the Crescent City, spent his youth in the care of the matrons of St. Anna’s Catholic Orphanage on Prytania Street with his widowed mother, his sister, and three brothers. He went to work as a furniture salesman to support his family before completing high school.
After marriage to Hazel Kieffer, his wife of 54 years, he established his own furniture store and became the father of two children, a son and a daughter. A lapsed Roman Catholic by faith tradition, Bill discovered the life--transforming love of Jesus Christ through the fellowship of the Methodist community of Clermont Harbor, Mississippi and the mentorship of The Reverend J. P. Bonnecarre, a retired Methodist minister. Leaving his business in 1953 in response to the call to preach, he received his License to Preach and his first appointment to the congregation in Clermont Harbor, to which was added churches at Lakeshore and Pearlington in the two successive years of that new calling. Summers at Candler School of Theology awakened his love of learning and the need to complete his university preparation for ministry. A move in 1967 back to New Orleans and appointment to Felicity Church enabled matriculation at LSU-NO and summer Course of Study work at Perkins School of Theology and volunteer service as chaplain at St. Anna’s Home, the home of his youth, now a home for the elderly. Successive pastorates at Second Church in New Orleans, Dubach, Caddo Heights, Buras, and Gueydan completed a full twenty-five year cycle of active service in the ordained ministry.
Never losing his distinctive passion for living, his sense of humor, enjoyment of Creole food, and his quest for beauty both in persons and in hand-crafted glass and antiques, Bill moved to Amite in 1978 with Hazel to open “Finnin’s Antiques” and to retire from the active ministry. Even in retirement Bill retained his exacting standards of social justice and fairness--marked by a passion for redress for the “little people” in both society and the Church. This characteristic often brought him into conflict and tension with dear friends and colleagues, both in the Church and beyond. In 1985, when Hazel was diagnosed with cancer, Bill closed the antique store and at-tended to Hazel’s needs at home until home care became impossible. Daily for more than three years Bill visited Hazel in the Amite Nursing Home, taking home-cooked meals and becoming for her, as well as for others in the nursing home, a vigorous patient advocate and ombudsman insuring proper care. Even in retirement, his concern for the ethical demands of The Gospel often precipitated conflict and confrontation wherever he went. On Thursday, November 8, after one of a series of increasingly severe illnesses and with his children at his side, Bill passed life into death, his own life complete. He will lovingly live in our memories.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1991, p. 236 By William M. Finnin, Jr., Th. D.

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