remembered as man who kept Township running
Harold Finn in 1994. Former Miami Township trustee Bill Hooper
said that he did not know how Miami Township Fire-Rescue ever
got along without Finn after he stepped down as a volunteer
with the squad.
YELLOW SPRINGS NEWS ARCHIVES
Without fail, the
first thing people remember about Harold Finn is that he could fix just
about anything. The second is that he was a family man. On both these
things he spent the major part of his 68 years in Yellow Springs, as a
father of five and as a volunteer and an employee of the Miami Township
fire department and road crew.
He died at home last Monday, March 31, of prostate cancer.
Finn loved mechanics and he spent much of the time with at least one hand
on a wrench. From his boyhood days when he had a bicycle repair shop to
his retirement days spent working on old tractor engines, Finn always
worked with his hands. Bikes turned to cars in high school, and from there
he went to work for Bales Chevrolet on Xenia Avenue.
Butch Heaton remembered working with Finn, who rarely missed a day, underneath
the cars on the lift. He was exceptionally adept at electrical wiring,
Heaton said, a skill that not all mechanics then had.
But Mr. Bales was always on Harold because Harold knew more than
Mr. Bales about certain things, and Mr. Bales didnt like that,
Heaton said. One day Mr. Bales had too much to drink and told Harold
to leave. I told Mr. Bales the next day, We lost a good man.
But Ehmans Garage was glad to have him, and in 1960 Finn went to
work at the repair shop on U.S. 68. He stayed there 14 years, all the
while serving as an engineer for Miami Township and as a volunteer for
the Yellow Springs Fire Department.
All the Townships firetrucks, automobiles and maintenance machinery
kept running thanks to Finns handiwork. Andy Benning, who worked
for the Village as a meter reader and then as fire chief in the 50s
and 60s, remembered watching the quiet fix-it guy with admiration.
Harold liked to mess around with motors, and he was, pardon my expression,
damn good at it, Benning said. We couldnt find anyone
better than he was.
Finn also loved to fight fires, he said in an article in the News shortly
before he retired as Township road superintendent. He kept a scanner in
his house and went on almost every run.
Many people say that Finn was a calm, quiet man, a strength that allowed
him to do his jobs so well.
Longtime Miami Township Fire-Rescue volunteer Dave Huber has known Finn
since the 50s. Ive never seen Harold lose his cool,
he said. If there was a problem he took care of it without any ado.
But he had a sense of humor too. Huber remembered what Finn told him in
their firefighting days.
Harold always said when he died he didnt want to be cremated
because hed been too hot already fighting fires, he said.
When Finn went to work full-time for the Township in 1979 as the road
superintendent, he was handling emergencies of a different nature: snow.
Former township trustee Bill Hooper recalled Finns diligent road
clearing when the area was under so much snow the Air Force was called
in to help dig the town and surrounding area out.
He was a quiet sort of guy, very pleasant and reliable, and you
could count on him in emergencies, Hooper said. When it started
snowing he was ready for it, and he kept the essential roads open for
the rescue squad.
Harold Finn, it seems, was ready for almost anything, especially when
it came to his family. Finn married his schoolmate Martha (Marty) See
in 1954, and they took their five children camping all over the United
States in the family RV trailer. Once when the familys car overheated
pulling the camper out on a dusty road somewhere, Finn rigged the windshield
washer pump to spray the water onto the radiator to cool the engine down.
The family belonged to Daytons Roamin Holiday Ramblers chapter
No. 23 for RV aficionados, and camping was a favorite family recreation.
It was even, at times, a savior. The familys eldest son, John Finn,
remembered as a child his dad working late one night during heavy spring
rains. When Harold came home at midnight, water had flooded the crawl
space under the house and it was sloshing into the homes first floor.
Dad said, Everyone get in the car, were going camping,
John said. He carried each of us one by one out to the car,
and we went to Houston Woods for the weekend.
John has remained not more than a step behind his father from the very
beginning. Since the time he started walking, John said he followed his
dad to work. John had a love for cars, and he worked for Chevrolet, then
Ehmans, then he eventually came to work for the Township as well.
Father and son worked side by side in the 1990s on the road crew.
It was great, I got to see my dad every day, John said. Wed
only occasionally get into little skiffs, which were more disagreements
than anything and which he later always had a right viewpoint about.
When Finn retired in 1999, John was right there to take his fathers
place as the new road superintendent.
John said he and his father talked about everything. And they worked on
all kinds of projects together, including building a garage and remodeling
a bathroom in Johns house.
He was my best friend, John said.
After he retired Harold Finn concentrated on fixing up antique farm machinery
as a member of the Old Timers Club. He had several David Bradley tractors
and he was fixing up a 1950s Farmall M tractor in his yard, Martha
Chris Mucher, the current president of the Township Board of Trustees
remembered Finn fondly.
He had a great toothy smile, and the man could fix anything,
Mucher said. But he didnt like paperwork, and he had a stubborn
streak in him where hed get this set jaw face and you knew you werent
going to get anything from him.
He got paid for 40-hour weeks, Mucher said, but he probably worked