Robert J. Finlay, 85

Robert J. Finlay died in the Alzheimer’s Unit of Kruse Memorial Lutheran Village in Brenham, Texas on January 9, 2002. He was born October 16, 1916 at Fife, Texas, a community that his ancestors from Fife County, Scotland helped to found. His roots were deep in Texas history. Some of his relatives, trained in stone masonry in Scotland, helped cut the granite for the state capitol in Austin. His father was James Finlay, who served in the Texas House of Representatives, and his mother was Mary Jordan Finlay. Bob graduated from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, now Texas A&M University, in 1938 with a degree in agricultural engineering. Upon graduation he went to work for the U. S. Soil Conservation Service. On June 14, 1941 he married Virginia Mae Womack of Goldthwaite, Texas. When America entered the Second World War, Bob enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942 and served in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. He was commanding officer of the armed guard aboard the S. S. Samuel Parker which protected supply ships. The Samuel Parker saw heavy action in the Mediterranean near Sicily in July 1943, during which time Bob and his crew destroyed 11 enemy planes. For heroism in that action, Bob was awarded the Silver Star. He left the Navy in 1945 with the rank of Lt. Commander. After the war Bob and Virginia settled in Coleman, Texas, where Bob worked again for the Soil Conservation Service. A daughter, Priscilla had been born in 1944 and a second daughter, Deborah, was born in 1948. In 1956 the family moved to Austin, Texas where Bob worked for the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation as a hydrology engineer. He retired from that position in 1972, when he and Virginia moved to Brady, Texas. Bob was especially proud of his Scottish heritage and the role of his family in settling McCulloch County, Texas. He knew much of the personal history of his family. He loved the land and people of that area which prompted his return to Brady after retirement and the choice of his final resting place in the Fife Cemetery. Bob had a wonderful sense of humor and a strong sense of personal integrity. He was a devoted husband and father. He valued his many friendships, especially those of his coworkers. He enjoyed travel, particularly to the varied and beautiful landforms and lakes and rivers that made up the American West. He enjoyed playing dominoes and cribbage and did both with considerable skill. Bob leaves behind friends who will remember him and family who both treasure their memories of him and carry on the legacy of his ancestry. He is survived by his wife Virginia of College Station, his two daughters and their husbands: Priscilla and Ludy Benjamin of College Station, and Deborah and Darrel Garrett of Williamsburg, Virginia, five grandchildren: Melissa McCracken and Melanie Benjamin, Chet Garrett, Hillary Garrett, and Hallie Garrett, and two great-grandchildren: Finlay and Benjamin McCracken. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts should be sent to the Richards Memorial Library, Brady, TX 76825.

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