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His Life


July 19, 2022
Robert Kent Finley Jr. died at his home on July 15, 2022, at the age of 97. Always an innovative influencer, he and two friends, John Herbert, and Dick Christian, began working various jobs during high school from 25-35 cents/hr. to save money for the purchase of a car which they took on a trip out West. They wrote accounts of their adventure for the local newspaper. Robert was part of the Navy’s V-12 program during WWII, which provided accelerated medical education. He briefly attended Haverford and Swarthmore colleges, and Ohio State University and finished medical school at Jefferson Medical College. He married Georganne Ozias in 1949 and began surgical residency after a stent with the Navy in 1949-50 in Trinidad.  While a surgical resident he participated in the first successful open-heart surgery using the heart and lung machine with Dr. John Gibbon. He began practicing surgery with his father, Robert Kent Finley Sr., around 1956 in Dayton and continued practicing surgery for more than 30 years. Robert was instrumental in founding the burn unit at Miami Valley Hospital. He was a teacher, and mentor for countless medical students and surgical residents. Upon retirement he volunteered his services overseas in various settings including Jamaica, American Samoa, Kenya, and Rwanda. He is most remembered for more than 10 years of volunteer service at Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Hangzhou, China where he helped build a surgical residency program modeled after that at Wright State University.  Mentoring young leaders, especially in surgery, was his passion, employing the motto, “give hearty praise and lavish approbation.” This is found on his bedroom door printed in capitals with very large font. He was an inspiration and a highly accomplished influencer of people for good. “Help people,” he often said, though he claimed not to give advice.

He was proceeded in death by his wife, Georganne. Surviving are 5 children, Robert Kent Finley III, Charles Devon Finley, David Ganiard Finley, Anna Finley Schroeder, and Richelle Cramer Piper as well as 11 grandchildren and 9 grand-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to benefit the Department of Surgery through the Wright State University Foundation for the "Robert K. Finley Jr., M.D. Memorial Fund" 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435.

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