Shrewsbury – Sally Eileen Finn, 91, died in her sleep on Feb. 24, 2021 at Benchmark Senior Living Facility in Shrewsbury.
Known as fiercely curious with an active and nimble mind, Sally was a loving mother and wife, a “talker” by her own admission, and prided herself on her independence. “Different is my middle name” she would say. Along with early leanings toward feminism and women’s rights, she sought to see the best in others and was always willing to grant the “benefit of the doubt” if slighted or wronged.
Standing 5’ 1”, Sally towered in her empathy and compassion for others, giving frequently to charities and in the late 90’s volunteering as a tutor to Bosnian refugees who had found their way to Vermont. A member of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Waterbury, Vt., and later Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Webster, she will be missed by many in both communities.
Born Sally Eileen Stevens on April 24, 1929, in Bayonne, N.J., Sally spent her early years in Beacon, N.Y., where she attended high school (reportedly sneaking cigarettes behind the gym), and was a member of the cheerleading squad. A member of the Phi Beta Kappa sorority, she graduated from New York University in 1951 with a BS in Economics.
After graduating, she worked for a time at the Federal Reserve Bank in NYC before meeting (on a blind date) Navy Lieutenant Edward Finn, who she married July 18, 1953 in Winthrop. Raised in an era when women were frequently subservient to men, Sally was an equal partner in her marriage and will be remembered for her quiet strength, sense of self, and determination to do the right thing.
Raising five children, Sally and Edward (Ed) would eventually move to Waterbury, Vt., where in the 1970s Sally worked as a “lunch lady” in the local elementary school cafeteria until taking a position in the main office as the secretary to the principal and later to the superintendent, a position she held for nearly two decades.
Outside of work Sally enjoyed cross-country skiing (taken up in her 50s) and travel, including trips to England and France, as well as an extended driving tour of the U.S. and a sailing journey off the coast of Maine on a traditional schooner. A natural writer and meticulous note taker, Sally’s journals are full of astute and erudite observations of the weather, birds and wildlife, and people encountered along the way.
Sally was a published author, her grandmother’s recipe for fruitcake, along with an essay Sally wrote, is included in the book At Grandmother’s Table. Sally paraded (literally) all over New England and beyond in colonial dress as a member of the color guard in the Hanaford Volunteer Fife and Drum Corps in which Ed played.
In 1996, after Ed passed, Sally marched with the Corps in Bill Clinton’s second inaugural parade.
One of her worst fears was to be “left out of the loop” especially when it came to current events. Always eager to learn, she mastered first the word processor and later the Internet, and her emails would often reference articles she had Googled late into the evening.
A leader by example, fairness was a hallmark of Sally’s outlook on life as she strived to treat each and every person she met with respect and an open mind. Her legacy is not that she was perfect, but that she always tried to become better, and in doing so, succeeded.
Married 43 years, Sally was preceded in death by her husband, Edward in 1996. She never remarried.
Sally is survived by her five children and their spouses, Deborah Eileen, Alan Matthew and Sue Griffiths, Janet Ellen and Michael Martel, Mary Alice, and Charles Andrew and Joyce Mphande-Finn; five grandchildren and their spouses, Josh Baker and Melissa Ogg-Baker, Nick Baker and partner Ashely Catchapaw, Brian and Marissa Finn, and Beatrice Tesiwaka Gomile; and two great-grandchildren, Alicia Ryan Baker and Ezekiel Wellington Charles Brandt.
A service to celebrate her life will be held at a date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to a preferred food bank or local library in your community.