Our dear father, grandpa, uncle, friend and devoted husband to mom these past 72 years passed away on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at his home at Bethany on Cass at the age of 94. Don was born January 4, 1926, in La Crosse, Wisconsin to John and Irma (Steffen) Finn. He attended St. John’s Grade School and Aquinas High School, graduating in 1943. He married Marilyn “Mutz” Hengel at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church on May 22, 1948. Theirs was a marriage for the ages. Their love and devotion were an inspiration to so many.
After graduating from Aquinas, Porky attended UW-L and worked at Heileman Brewery part-time until called into active service with the U.S. Navy in March of 1944. His tour of duty was in the Pacific Theatre aboard the USS Golden City, troop transport ship from April 1944 until May 1946. The combat transport took part in the amphibious assaults on Guam, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf and San Narciso. They landed troops and supplies at Okinawa and evacuated marines from Iwo Jima and Okinawa while under attack by aircraft, submarine and midget subs. Upon honorable discharge, he entered St. Mary’s College, in Winona, Minnesota to study accounting, and played on the football, basketball and baseball teams. While there he received the Jack Dempsey award and trophy as most valuable athlete.
In March of 1948, Don accepted a position as a postal clerk with the U.S. Post Office in La Crosse where he worked for 38 years, retiring in January 1985. He enjoyed his work and also his retirement. During his retirement he volunteered with the Lifeline program at St Francis Health Care and delivered meals on wheels for Cathedral Parish. He also served as an acolyte and Eucharistic Minister at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman for many years. He was a member of the La Crosse Postal Clerk’s Union, the American Legion Post 52 La Crosse, and, along with Marilyn, was a prayer partner at St. Rose Convent for many years. He also took up golfing in retirement. It became a real joy for him and some years with his annual pass, he played so much it worked out to almost pennies per round. Never a cart for him, that was his exercise. In his leisure he also enjoyed tinkering at his work bench and enjoyed his solitude.
Don & Marilyn enjoyed a full social life, part of which was annual trips to Door County to pick cherries, make “Cherry Bounce” and enhance the special cross country skiing with the “22” gang, and dancing with the Continental Club. Don loved to summer fish and ice fish, hunt deer, ducks, etc. and just being out boating on the Mississippi River. Their travels included two trips to Hawaii, a tour through Alaska, motoring to California, New Mexico, Florida, Fenwick Island, and Canada to visit family and flew to St. Thomas to visit Kathy. Summers were spent on work and play at the cottage – “Foaming Quart” – including enjoying a few games of horseshoe and perhaps a Manhattan before dinner.
Don’s life was shaped around his family and his faith. He loved going to daily Mass and praying his Rosary. He was a shining example of the Christian values of the Catholic Church in every aspect of his life. He was especially devoted to his wife of almost 72 years, Marilyn. He loved spending time with his children and grandchildren, and had a special bond with the twins, Alissia and Aaron, his first great-grandchildren.
In addition to his beloved Marilyn, survivors include two children; son Mike (Mary) Finn of Peebles, Ohio and daughter Kathryn Finn of Chicago, Illinois. Seven grandchildren; Patrick (Shannon) McCain, Christina (James) Gilbert, Jeffrey Finn, Chadwick Finn, Marian (Aaron) Clark, Jonathon (Bobbi) Finn and Cory (Natalia) Ellenson and great-grandchildren; Emeryk, Eriah, Ariana, Alivia, Aaron (Savannah), Alissia, William, Anthony, Blake, Briston, Jordy, Jace, Weston, Amia, Greyson, Tripp, Kylee and Ethan. He also was granted two great-great-grandchildren; Marilyn Ruth and Beckett. He is also survived by one brother; Eugene (Phyllis) Finn of Hope Springs, Alabama and Fenwick Island, one sister Irma (Dick) Johnson of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and one sister-in-law, Patricia (widow of John) of Palm Harbor, Florida. He held dear many nephews, nieces, cousins and friends, including his golfing buddies.
He was preceded in death by brothers John, Francis and James, sister Marie and dear daughter Mary Sue in 2005.
A private service will be held at this time.
Memorials may be given to the Blessed Sacrament Parish, Aquinas Catholic Schools or Casa Hogar mission. Thank you to the kind, attentive care given by the staff at Bethany on Cass! The director, office staff, RN’s, aides, cooks and servers, maintenance, Doug, housekeeper, Jan and recently all the Mayo Hospice help, especially Robbie and Dr. Bingol. Being a patient in family practice for many years a special bond was formed with his MD, Dr. Merfeld and staff … love and laughter. Until the end Don always had a smile and little joke for the various staff and caregivers. They were all very kind and compassionate, not only to Don, but looking out for Marilyn as well.
John Neumann never saw an apparition – never healed a sick person.
He was just plain good —just doing his job, day in and day out.
Simple stuff really! But simple stuff is the stuff of sanctity.
Everyday holds opportunity to be “just plain good”
And just plain good is good enough in the eyes of God.
-That is who Donald J. (Porky) Finn was
The church did not overflow with people at the funeral; there was no
TV coverage; no crowds will line the road to the burial site.
What people did notice was that his life had been shaped by Jesus.
He quietly witnessed for Christ, every day, and was never preoccupied with worldly matters.
He sought no honors or glory but used his energies to focus on God.
In sum, he died well and received, I believe, the ultimate reward, the eternal merit, not from humanity but from his Savior.
That the world did not notice his passing is of no consequence.
It is enough to know that our heavenly Father, who nurtured my friend through the storms of life, also accepted him in death.
Memories are treasures no one can steal.
Death is a heartache no one can heal.
Time takes away grief, but memories turn back every leaf.
Forever loved and missed, Your wife and friend