Serving Whitman County since 1877

Michael R. Finch

Jan. 11, 1944 - Feb. 5, 2024

Michael R. Finch of Moses Lake, Wash., was born on January 11th, 1944, as the first child of Eldie and Margaret Finch in Yakima, Wash. Michael passed away on February 5, 2024, following a pneumonia infection complicated by lymphoma cancer in addition to heart and kidney failure at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, at the age of 80.

His family lived in the Nob Hill area of Yakima before moving to Kelso in 1948. Michael grew up on Mt. Brynion outside of Kelso, Wash. Mike and his brother Dennis spent their childhood fishing the Cowlitz River and hiking and hunting the foothills of Mt. St. Helens with their older cousin Carl Norton. Mike attended Scout Camp on Spirit Lake. Mike was a member and officer of the Kelso FFA chapter, where he and his brother raised and sold Holstein Dairy heifers.

In high school, Mike rode the Northern Pacific Train to Pullman for the State FFA Convention and received his State FFA Degree. Mike's family acquired a small dairy in Winlock, Wash., in 1961, but Mike continued to attend high school in Kelso, Wash., and graduated in 1962. Later that fall, he attended Washington State University and majored in Animal Science. Throughout college, Mike participated in intramural sports, was Treasurer of the Dairy Science Club and a member of the Dairy Cattle Judging Team. In the summers he worked on the family dairy farm and was employed by Reynolds Aluminum Company in Longview. He graduated from WSU in 1966 with a Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science.

In 1966, Mike enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Fort McClellan, Alabama. He was commissioned to Vietnam in 1967 and finished his military service at Fort McClellan in 1969. Mike requested early separation from the Army in May of 1969 to attend summer school at WSU and receive his degree in Agricultural Education. Mike was hired to be the Vocational Agriculture Teacher in Oakesdale, Wash., in August of 1970. One year later, Mike met Sandra Shelton from Spokane, who was hired as the new 5th grade elementary teacher. On June 10th, 1973, Mike married the love of his life and best friend in the Presbyterian Church in downtown Oakesdale. Mike and Sandy's first son, Russell was born in January of 1975; and Jared was born a year later in 1976. Both boys were delivered in the Colfax Hospital.

In the summer of 1976, Mike became the Agriculture Instructor at Moses Lake High School. Mike and Sandy bought the deed to their Cascade Valley property in 1978 and broke ground, constructing their own home in July of 1979. In the summer of 1984, Mike relocated his family back to the Palouse as he became the Agriculture Teacher at Garfield-Palouse High School. Here, Mike coached numerous State Champion Crops Judging teams, a Champion Land Evaluation team and traveled to Kansas City as the coach of the State FFA Meats and Livestock Teams. While in Palouse, Mike continued to share his love for Scouting as he mentored over a half dozen Eagle Scout projects. Mike was also a member of the Palouse Lion's Club and served on the Palouse Empire Fair Board. In 1994, Mike and Sandy moved back to their home in Moses Lake as Mike taught Agriculture in Royal City until January of 2007 when he retired. Mike also served as an officer for the Washington Association of Agricultural Educators from 1993-1997, and inspected fields for the Washington Crop Improvement Association. Mike's skillset in his profession was far from one dimensional. He taught Animal Science, Welding, Small Engines, Carpentry, Horticulture, Agronomy and Wiring. Mike's personal and philanthropic projects were always constructed to stand the test of time. He mentored and advised hundreds of Supervised Agriculture Experience Projects in his 37 years as an FFA Advisor. In his retirement Mike enjoyed taking care of his garden and chickens, camping and fishing, traveling to the occasional Cougar Football game and watching his grandkids show their market hogs and participate in athletic competitions. Mike's home was open to everyone, he loved a Chico's "Hochstatter" and he never turned down a cold beer.

Mike is survived by is wife Sandy and his two sons, Rusty (Frederica) and Jerry (Amber) and his four grandchildren, Maggie, Aliyah, Arabelle and Maddoc.

In honor of Mike's career and commitment to Agricultural Education and FFA, the family would like to establish a memorial fund to assist future state winning Land Evaluation and Livestock Judging teams as they travel to National Competitions. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the "Mike Finch Memorial Scholarship Fund", c/o Chris Carlson - WAAE Executive Director, PO Box 96, Stanwood, WA 98292.

His big smile, monster handshake and jolly laugh will truly be missed but never forgotten. Mike's "Celebration of Life" will be on March 16th at 1 p.m., at the Grant County Fairgrounds 4H building.


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