Joe B. Finley
|Josef Bartlett Finley, Jr.|
Place of birth missingAugust 6, 1924
|Died||September 10, 2011 (aged 87)|
Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas, USA
|Resting place||Laredo City Cemetery|
|Residence||Laredo, Webb County, Texas|
|Alma mater||Holding Institute|
United Independent School District
|Spouse(s)||Edith Mary Grinnan Finley (married 52 years until his death)|
|Children||Alicia Finley Richter|
Ana Maria Finley
Josef Bartlett Finley, Jr., known as Joe B. Finley (August 6, 1924 – September 10, 2011), was a rancher and businessman in Laredo, Texas, who in 1961 was the driving force behind the establishment of the United Independent School District, which services a large section of Webb County. In 1964, UISD received nationwide attention as the first school district in Texas to offer bilingual programs.
Background[edit | edit source]
The only child of Joe B. Finley, Sr. (1899–1979), and Florence Finley (1897–1973), Finley was educated at the Methodist-affiliated Holding Institute in Laredo, since closed. He rode a train for twenty cents per day from the Callaghan Ranch, where he was reared, to Laredo in order to attend Holding. Finley served for four years in the United States Army in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, a member of the Texas Army National Guard's 112th Cavalry Regiment, which saw 434 days of combat. Finley was alongside the battleship USS Missouri when the Empire of Japan signed the instrument of surrender on September 2, 1945, which effectively ended the war in the Pacific. He was an admirer of General Douglas MacArthur, the liberator of the Philippines in 1944 and later the first United Nations commander in the Korean War. Finley had a great knowledge of military history.
School board service[edit | edit source]
Finley was an original UISD board member, having served from the founding of the district in 1961 until 1993. The district was created by the merging of three small districts, Cactus, Johnson, and Nye, within the still existing Webb Consolidated Independent School District, based in Bruni, Texas. At the time, the City of Laredo was served only by the Laredo Independent School District. In time, the northern half of Laredo came under the UISD. Along with Amparo Gutierrez and John W. Arndt, Finley is considered part of the "Big Three" of UISD, with a school named for each.
UISD began with 340 pupils in grades one through nine; by the time of Finley's death, the district had 41,000 students. The district adopted the bilingual program at a time when Texas state law forbade the use of Spanish in public schools. According to his daughter, Alicia Finley Richter, Finley "felt very strongly that children should speak both languages." After his thirty-two years as a UISD trustee, Finley maintained a continuing interest in the district. In the late 1990s, his namesake Finley Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School, a point of great satisfaction to him. Finley was present for the opening of the new United High School in 2009 and the 50th anniversary celebration of the establishment of UISD earlier in 2011.
UISD Superintendent Roberto J. Santos said that Finley as a board member "would always look after the taxpayers and make sure we had a balanced budget and ensure people were held accountable for every penny spent."
Rancher[edit | edit source]
Finley eventually purchased the Callaghan Ranch, one of the largest cattle operations in the region, having originally been established in the early 1870s as a sheep-raising homestead and named for its founder, the Confederate veteran Charles Callaghan. From 1923 to 1947, the senior Finley was the general manager of the Callaghan, which is located twenty-seven miles north of Laredo off Interstate 35 in Webb County but carries an address in Encinal in southern La Salle County.
Ricardo Palacios, a retired attorney and neighboring rancher from the Encinal area, recalls how his friend Finley was known for his soft words and patient demeanor: "He was a very good leader. Cowboys would get the cattle excited, and Finley would tell them to back off. We'll do it calmly. . . . He was just another cowboy, a regular guy, very unassuming, not pretentious at all." Finley was a breeder of Hereford and Santa Gertrudis cattle. He was a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth. Finley was a former chairman of the Texas Animal Health Commission and the president of the United States Animal Health Commission. He was a Webb County "Rancher of the Year" and a director of the Laredo International Fair and Exposition. He was also a member of the Masonic lodge.
Family and death[edit | edit source]
Finley was married for fifty-two years to the former Edith Mary Grinnan, who survives him. His five daughters, in addition to Alicia Richter, the widow of Edward Richter, Jr., are Ana Maria Finley, Amanda Finley Lasater and husband, Lee, Mary Joe Finley Cranny and her husband, Jim, and Amy Finley Fishcer, and her husband, Jeff, the latter the parents of Finley's three grandchildren. Finley died at the age of eighty-seven at a hospital in Corpus Christi. Services were held on September 14 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Laredo. Interment was in the Masonic section of the Laredo City Cemetery.
Finley was so highly regarded in his community that the Laredo Morning Times covered his funeral on the front page. C. J. Tillinghast, a pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cotulla, Texas, said that Finley was "one of those people who made a difference in everyone's life. He will be missed by all of us." Finley's daughter, Ana Marie, said that her father was "the epitome of service beyond self ... His service to the Texas Association of School Boards just proved that the path to personal fulfillment isn't always necessarily paved with personal gain."
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References[edit | edit source]
- "Josef Bartlett Finley, Jr". search.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Cesar G. Rodriguez, "UISD founder dies: Rancher Joe Finley helped make district happen", Laredo Morning Times, September 11, 2011, pp. 1, 11A
- Nick Georgiou, "Finley loved family, friends: Wife: UISD founder respected by all", Laredo Morning Times, September 12, 2011, pp. 1, 12A
- Joe Bartlett Finley, Jr., Laredo Morning Times, September 13, 2011, p. 8A
- Nick Georgiou, "Mass, funeral for UISD founder, Laredo Morning Times, September 15, 2011, pp. 1, 12A
- "Callaghan Ranch". The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- Agricultural Research Institute (U.S.); National Research Council (U.S.) (1960). Beef for tomorrow: proceedings. National Academies. pp. 87–74. NAP:11458. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- "Joe Finley Contribution List in 2010". campaignmoney.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "Joe Bartlett Finley, Jr., Laredo Morning Times, September 14, 2011, p. 13A
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