Let the memory of Chuck be with us forever. May he rest in eternal paradise.
  • 77 years old
  • Born on May 12, 1940 in Los Angeles, California, United States.
  • Passed away on February 24, 2018 in Palo Alto, California, United States.

This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Chuck Finney. Born on May 12, 1940, and passed away on February 24, 2018. This is in tribute to a life so beautifully lived. 

Posted by Suelyn Tune on April 30, 2019
I first met Chuck around 1969, when my husband Jerry and I were living in Westwood, CA, and preparing to move to my hometown of Honolulu. Jerry had been a schoolmate and friend of Chuck’s at Hollywood High School. Both of them played tennis and were members of a club called the Saracens, which held annual reunions. I don’t believe Jerry was a regular at the Saracens’ get-togethers, but he had fond memories of Chuck and wanted to re-establish their friendship. He managed to contact him, and we had him and his then wife Lynn over to dinner. I found Chuck to be warm, friendly, and courtly.
 After we moved to Hawai’i, the two men initially kept in sporadic contact via email and phone calls. As the years passed, their communication increased. On a visit to San Francisco, Jerry and I managed to get together with Chuck at a restaurant called The Stinking Rose. Chuck came alone that time. On another visit, he came with his wife Joanne, and we encouraged the two of them to visit us. Joanne demurred, saying she had visited Hawai’i before and didn’t want to spoil her good memories of the islands, but Chuck was excited and said he would visit.
 Chuck visited us twice. The first time he came with his granddaughter, and on another visit brought his daughter, Alexandra. On both visits he had found a place to stay just a few yards from beautiful Kailua Beach, and he loved it; he found it so relaxing. After those visits, he would frequently tell us he wanted to return as soon as he found the time. At that point, Joanne was well, but Chuck was busy with his job as an attorney and as a host of a well-received radio program. However, after his trips to Hawai’i, the phone calls between him and Jerry increased, and their friendship blossomed. Whenever he’d call and if I picked up the phone, the two of us would also have a good conversation before I passed the phone to Jerry.
 Then Chuck got hit with cancer. We worried about him, but he kept assuring us that he was doing well and would beat it, which he did. Not long after, Joanne fell ill, and Chuck became her caretaker. We worried about both of them, especially the stress that Chuck was under, but he was wonderfully supportive of and caring for Joanne, which both Jerry and I admired.
 About 12 years ago, Jerry was diagnosed with cancer. Chuck was shocked and upset when we shared the news. He called him frequently to find out how he was doing and to encourage him and also talked to me to make sure that Jerry wasn’t whitewashing what was going on. Immediately after my husband’s death, I called to let Chuck know, and he reacted emotionally and with great sorrow. As the days passed, he called and emailed me frequently, and I shared with him some of the unusual happenings that took place right after Jerry’s death and in the weeks and months that followed. Initially, he was skeptical, but he came to admit that there were things that happened that one could not explain rationally, and one just had to accept.
 I am filled with gratitude for Chuck’s frequent calls and emails during the months of grief and mourning that I experienced. I will never forget the concern and friendship he offered during that hard time. As time passed, we continued to communicate, not as frequently, but I knew that I could depend on him to listen if I needed someone with whom to talk.
 So it was with great shock that I received Alexandra’s email notifying me of her father’s death. And although the news was hard to accept, I am grateful that Chuck didn’t suffer for an extended period of time and that he went peacefully. I imagine him having a wonderful reunion with his loved ones who passed before him and with his Saracen friends, too.
 Rest in peace, Chuck, and mahalo piha (heartfelt thanks) for your friendship over the years.
Me ke aloha pumehana,
Suelyn Tune
Posted by Mike Farrell on March 9, 2019
I think I met Chuck in the 4th or 5th grade at West Hollywood Grammar School, I don’t remember which. My sense is that he was new to the school when we met, but again I’m not sure. I think his family had only recently moved into the area.
Whatever, I knew immediately there was a qualitative difference about Chuck, certainly “Charles” at that time. He had a kind of formal air that set him slightly apart from most of the more rough and tumble guys in our class. My brain hints that his folks were from someplace else; Australia, I want to say. And the formality about Chuck was expressed by his good manners, a certain thoughtfulness and an air of diffidence that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I later came to understand it as maturation and decency.
Chuck wore short pants, which certainly set him apart. We were all in jeans, Levis if we could afford them, so Chuck, with his slightly unique qualities and his very different style of dress, would have been a likely target for ridicule, but for some reason he wasn’t.
Kick ball on the lower asphalt court where the upper grade kids played was the sport of the moment, as I recall, and because he seemed likely to be separated out from the usual bunch of players, I invited him to join us.
I don’t remember if he knew the game or had played it before, but my sense is it was new to him. Whatever the case, what sticks in my head as I think back to that day is that the ball was pitched, or probably rolled, to Chuck at home plate and he kicked the damned thing to hell and gone, in one marvelous stroke erasing the short pants, the formality and anything else that made him seem different from the rest of us from that day forward.
Suddenly everybody liked Chuck.
Chuck, or Charlie, as I sometimes liked to call him, became one of my most cherished friends that day and remains so now, if only in memory.
Chuck’s decency was like his skin, never apart from him. He was gentle and sweet, thoughtful and kind, smart as a whip and handsome as hell. He was, I think, quite shy, but he overcame that and succeeded, as far as I’m aware, at everything he tried.
He was an incredibly sensitive man, never cruel or rude. Never, I think, thoughtless. I remember learning, when at his house for dinner one time, that when he realized at a very young age that the meat on the table for dinner was part of an animal that had been killed for our consumption, he then and there became a life-long vegetarian.
That was Chuck.
Sometime during the period of our graduating from West Hollywood School and moving on to Bancroft Junior High, a bunch of us were formed into a club under the tutelage of a wonderful man named Marv Bass, a coach at our primary hangout, West Hollywood Park. We called it The Banshees, with the charter members being made up of our pals from school and the park. This group, I know, was a creature of Marv’s genius, a way to keep us off the streets and out of the trouble that was readily available and sure to be tempting.
The years at Bancroft were a growing, maturing time for all of us, I think, as we Banshees joked and horsed around, but as I look back I wonder if it wasn’t simply affording us the chance to catch up with Chuck.
The one event involving him during that time that stands out in my memory is that a couple of the rougher guys hit on an idea during our last year at Bancroft, a stupid idea of getting a bunch of students to join them in putting a message in the alumni book where the seniors got to express what they thought – what they liked and didn’t like – about the Junior High experience. The message they tricked people into signing onto by explaining it as a big complicated joke was actually an anti-Semitic slur against “Big Jays.” It caused a major stir, as you might imagine, because so many who signed on hadn’t understood the true intent and were humiliated at having allowed themselves to be tricked into adding their names. Chuck, naïve and trusting soul that he was, was one of them.
We had Jewish club members and Jewish friends outside the club, and when the book was published they were understandably hurt and furious. Chuck, when he understood what he had been tricked into doing, was crushed. It stung him deeply and he apologized to as many friends as he could find. And to some he didn’t even know. In spite of their upset I'm sure those close to us understood, but it was a bitter lesson for Chuck. I think he just didn’t understand how anyone could be so cruel as to do such a thing.
How he handled it, making a personal apology and explanation to each affected friend and others who would listen, became a lasting memory for me about Chuck’s naiveté and innocence: how hurt he was by having hurt another.
We moved on together to Hollywood High School where Chuck continued to grow without losing any of the honesty, simplicity and decency I always loved about him. Our club, The Banshees, was re-dubbed The Saracens upon our arrival at Hollywood and we took our place in the renowned Quad, the big plaza-like area in the center of the campus where meals were eaten and social interactions took place. As we passed through the semesters and he became more and more popular and more active at school, Chuck was encouraged, during our senior year, to run for Student Body President. I thought it was a great idea and supported him enthusiastically. But before the election some sort of issue came up that put the student body’s more active members in opposition to the school’s administration and there was talk of a student strike.
Now this was the mid-50s and Hollywood High was not a cauldron of social activism. I don’t even actually remember what the potential strike was about, but it quickly became clear that those who supported it put their standing at risk. I don’t know if expulsion was a possibility, but it was, as I recall, a serious question pitting students against the school’s authorities. And it became a big deal. At some point during this time, Chuck came to me and said he thought he had to join the group threatening to strike. I told him that would mean losing the chance to become Student Body President. He said,
“I know, but they’re right.”
That was Chuck.
Fortunately, the issue was resolved peacefully, there was no strike and Chuck was elected President.
I’d known, I guess, through high school, that Chuck was interested in being or becoming an actor. I was too, but I was too scared to do anything about it. After graduating from Hollywood High, he went on to college, as did many of the guys. I did not and joined the service, so our lives went in separate directions.
We stayed in touch, though, and periodically saw each other, if sometimes only once a year at our Banshee/Saracen Reunions.
Instead of acting, Chuck chose law school and went on to practice it. For many years he was, I believe, an Assistant District Attorney in the Bay Area. He had met and married Joanne, now his wife of many years and they produced the lovely Alexandra, who has put this wonderful memorial together.
Chuck was always about serving others. During his years as an ADA he specialized in prosecuting companies that broke the law or mistreated employees or customers. And he hosted a radio show about the law that was meant to provide help to people who had a legal problem and didn’t know how to deal with it or where to get assistance. Though not a lawyer, I have become involved in legal issues pertaining to social justice and Chuck had me as a guest on his show a number of times. It was great fun to be there with him as he taught some people and steered others toward a way to resolve their problems. Always polite, always attentive, always intent on helping.
That was Chuck.
At home, he carefully tended to his wife Joanne as she suffered through a series of debilitating illnesses. At the same time he always took note when a friend was ill or had passed. He made a point, I know, of calling and offering good wishes and attention when our former club members were ill or recovering. And he called regularly, actually stayed in touch for some time, with the widows and loved ones of members of the club who have passed.
With it all, Charlie maintained the same dignity, the same sweet, innocent decency that I first saw in him at West Hollywood Grammar School.
Chuck should have had many more years than were allowed him. The gifts of his talent, his winning personality, his charm, his decency and his dedication to helping others made a great contribution and could have/should have continued to the benefit of all of us. As it is, he seemed so incredibly vital the last time I saw him that Alexandra’s call about his sudden death was so stunning, so shocking as to be staggering. It brought me to the realization that when one you admire so much, love so much, passes on, a piece of you goes with him. But I’ll always be grateful for the piece of him that remains part of me.
Mike Farrell
Posted by Bonnie Carlton on March 6, 2019
My husband, Dean Carlton, passed away 2-1/2 years ago. During his illness I first started to receive kind comforting telephone calls from Chuck. I remembered him from Hollywood High, and heard his name mentioned over the fifty years of Saracens Reunions. Chuck must have called me over 50 times comforting me during Dean's illness and after his death. Many times when I was at my lowest, the phone would ring and it would be Chuck checking on me, that gentle soft voice encouraging me. I had not actually seen him in decades but miraculously he was there for me. He was truly an Angel in disguise. Thank you, Chuck.
Posted by Leon Bayer on March 4, 2019
Chuck was the kind of guy who instantly made you feel good. He always had a kindly twinkle in his eye and a warm, sincere smile for everyone. He was a patient listener, and a sincere friend.
Chuck was filled with genuine concern for all people, but especially for people in need. And he was pragmatic - he knew you can't always help everyone, but that did not stop him from listening and trying to with profound courtesy and patience. (Not always easy to do with some callers to the show.)
Chuck's vision for the radio program was beyond brilliant. He found a way to bring free access to law for thousands of people with legal needs that were not being filled anywhere else by anyone else. By recruiting the help of dozens of volunteer lawyers, Chuck provided people in need with free access to law, one person at a time. It was my special privilege to be allowed to take part in that mission.
Chuck's physical being is gone, but his vision, his spirit and his radio show live on. Jeff Hayden has been a worthy successor, and continues the Chuck Finney tradition. The show remains true to the original purpose and values established by our great Mentor. OK, so maybe not with Chucks golden radio voice, but with all the same enthusiasm and compassion. Jeff, keep it going!
Posted by David Smith on February 25, 2019
I was 12 years old when I started the 7th grade at Bancroft Junior High School in February 1951. In one of my first classes while we were waiting for a teacher, Mike Farrell introduced Chuck as the only 10 year old in the class. Through Junior High and High School, and through the years since as a member of the Banshees and the Saracens, I came to know Chuck well. He was always a man of integrity and a true Gentleman. I enjoyed Chuck and was privileged to have him as a friend.
Posted by Jeff Hayden on February 25, 2019
For some 20 years, I had the privilege to call Chuck my friend. His calling was to serve the public. While many knew him as a Deputy District Attorney, some of us also knew Chuck for creating and hosting -- for some 30 years -- a radio program that was entirely for the benefit of the public, passing along information as well as legal advice to those who listened and/or called in; shortly after Chuck passed, several of us worked together to keep the program on the air. While I am honored to carry on Chuck's work, trying to host that show in the manner that best preserves and continues that vision, I'd trade it all to hear that smooth voice return to the air. Chuck, you left us too soon.
Posted by Jim Farrell on February 26, 2019
I met Chuck when we were in grammar school. He was the same age as my older brother and I noticed that he never showed the slightly condescending attitude that some of my brother's pals had toward the "little brother".
We were friends through junior and senior high school, and I felt that he was the most direct to deal with of all my schoolmates. Conversations were thoughtful and sincere. His attention was focused, and he took responsibility for comments he offered on any subject.
I thought he was a great guy, even though he operated in a low key manner socially. I was delighted when his demeanor was recognized by the student body and he was elected Student Body President in his senior year at Hollywood High School.
Chuck was a regular attendee at our high school club's annual Reunion Dinner, where for 60 years a group of kids dressed up as old men have gathered together to enjoy the memories and discuss the paths our lives have taken. He will be greatly missed.
Posted by Alejandro Martinez on February 24, 2019
Some people we only get to know briefly, yet they make you feel like they have known you for a life time and you them. They make you feel welcomed and valued. This is my experience of Chuck. His gentle manner and authentic engagement is what I carry of Chuck. How could we not grief his passing.  But I also celebrate my fortune in having meet him and gotten to know him.

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