Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Jimmy A. Finley

IRONWOOD, Mich. - Jimmy A. Finley, 75, passed away on Feb. 13, 2020, of complications from COPD at Aspirus Ironwood Hospital in Ironwood,

Jim was born on June 4, 1944, in Upland, California, son of Alfred K. and Sarah J. (Wilson) Finley. Jim graduated from Lawton (Oklahoma) High School in 1962. He attended Michigan Technological University studying geology. He belonged to ROTC and proudly served his country as a lieutenant with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Karlsrhue, Germany.

In 1968, he was united in marriage to Donna Olson at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Ironwood.

Jimmy worked a couple of summers for Bear Creek Mining in Ely, Minnesota, lake fishing, scaring up bears and moose, all the while devouring fresh blueberries, and spent winters living off-grid in a cabin at the back 80 in Ironwood Township. He attended Stanford University in California and received a master's degree in economic geology. He was hired by Chevron Resources as a mineral's exploration geologist working in San Francisco, Denver, Buena Park, California, and San Antonio, Texas. He then went to Perth, Western Australia, where for four years he managed Chevon's gold mine in Wiluna. He transferred back to the San Francisco and worked in San Ramon, California.

Retirement looked good by then, so he went on to yet a different kind of life. Jim and his wife moved to Hancock to experiment with vegetable gardening (a resounding success) and wine vine-growing (an equal failure). He saw a need to shepherd his floundering fraternity with some success. He spent many afternoons cross country skiing in his "back yard," aka the back 40. He then moved to their property in Ironwood Township and supervised the building of a timber frame home. He enjoyed his work for the Gogebic Conservation District doing soil erosion and sedimentation inspections and supervising the yearly tree and plant sales. Through it all he maintained lifelong interests in his good friends, the kids' sports, Stanford football, UCLA basketball, geology, any science, habitat preservation, photography, fly fishing with flies he tied, golf, good wine, bridge and of course, politics.

Jim is survived by his wife, Donna, Ironwood Township; son, Aidan (Candy) Finley, Hillsboro, Oregon; daughter, Gaylan Skolnick (Michael), Alameda, California; grandchildren, Jackson, Chase and Dylan, of Hillsboro, and Sammy and Ella, of Alameda; sister, Sharon (Gil) Mercurio, White Plains, New York; brother, David (Debby) Finley, Upland, California; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Jim definitely wanted more time to spoil his cherished grandkids.

A special thanks to Dad Olson (RIP 2011) along with brothers-in-law, Olson, for all their physical labor, wisdom and common sense throughout the years. He always loved Mom O for her unconditional love and delicious apple pies; to his wonderful classmates from the Livorno, Italy, American School who have annual reunions all over the U.S. and Italy, even after 60 plus years, Ciao!; and to his long association with his Kappa Delta Psi brothers at MTU, a great supportive group of friends, Lou leg guys. Many thanks to Dr. Pawar and the staff at Aspirus Ironwood for all their care and help.

Those who wish may donate to the charity of their choice or to: Kappa Delta Psi Building Fund, c/o Dale Schwach, Secretary, Box 163, Frasier, MI 48026.

The family has chosen Frick-Zielinski Funeral Home, Bessemer, to honor Jim's legacy of life. You may leave a condolence or tribute for Jim's family online at

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