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Published: Monday, 7/27/2009

Korea ex-POW became labor leader in Lima

LIMA, Ohio - Edward A. Finn, Jr., an Army veteran who coached youth football, became a high-profile labor leader, and reared five children after being a prisoner during the Korean War, died Wednesday in St. Rita's Medical Center of congestive heart failure. He was 78.

"He was a man who believed in doing his duty," a son, Keith Finn, said. "I think he liked seeing people treated the way they should be treated."

Born on March 3, 1931, Mr. Finn grew up in Lima during the Great Depression in a family of nine children.

His family was never well off, but not destitute, either. He learned a strong work ethic from his father, family members said.

Although friends described him as ornery and a bit sarcastic at times, they said Mr. Finn was nonetheless a popular figure. He was grand marshal of the city's 1992 Labor Day parade.

He was largely responsible for bringing the parade back in the 1980s after years of absence, his family said.

"He was not shy. He was very much a social butterfly. He knew everyone in town," a daughter, Diane Finn, said.

Mr. Finn was a member of St. Rose Catholic Church.

He retired from the Ford Motor Co. Lima Engine Plant and United Auto Workers Region 2B, where he was an international representative.

He was a member of UAW Local 1219, where he was president, chairman of the bargaining committee, and a member of the executive board.

Mr. Finn organized and was on the board of the Labor-Management-Citizens Committee and was chairman of the Allied Labor Council.

He represented labor on several community boards, including one that oversees the United Way of Greater Lima.

Mr. Finn was on the Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center board, serving as president for six years.

He was a big booster of community theater performed at Encore Theatre. One daughter, Karen Finn, is the Encore Theatre's president. Her sister Diane Finn is its treasurer.

Mr. Finn also was once a president of the Mid-West Football Association, a league for youths ages 8 through 12.

He coached one of the association teams from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s.

In the Korean War, he served as an Army tank commander. He was a prisoner of war and received a Purple Heart for injuries in combat.

Mr. Finn also served on the finance committees for his church and Lima Central Catholic High School.

He was a member of Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge 54, Knights of Columbus Council 2661, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1275, and the Allen County Democratic Party.

He also was an avid golfer and, during his youth, an excellent bowler.

His wife, the former Mary Ann Hatcher, died Dec. 1, 2008.

Survivors include sons, Keith and Kevin Finn; daughters, Karen, Diane, and Colleen Finn; two grandchildren; a brother, John Daniel Finn, and two sisters, Kathleen Ketcham and Rose Bohne.

Services are to be at 10 a.m. today at St. Rose Catholic Church.

The family asks that any memorials be made to St. Rose Catholic Church, Encore Theatre, or Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center Development Foundation.



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