Ocean Beach 07

Wilfred Arthur Finch

November 23, 1917 ~ March 17, 2022 (age 104)

Obituary

On March 17, 2022, at the Personal Care Home in MacGregor, Manitoba, Wilfred Arthur Finch passed

away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 104.

 

Born in Melita, Manitoba on November 23, 1917, Wilf spent his early years in Elkhorn before the family

settled in Birtle. Wilf lost his mother to cancer when he was just 12, leaving his older sister Nellie to take

on some of the responsibilities of raising her four younger brothers. Wilf and his identical twin brother

Ed found solace in their love of the great outdoors. The two of them spent nearly all their free time hunting,

fishing, skating and exploring the Birdtail River, while also developing a love of weightlifting and golf,

despite their being limited, by a lack of finances, to homemade gear of (often) dubious quality.

 

Wilf and his siblings attended Birtle Public School. Keen students, both Wilf and Ed were promoted two

grades, leading to their graduation in 1933 at age 16. With the Great Depression at its peak, there were

few jobs for grown men, let alone 16-year-old boys, but Wilf and Ed found work at the Wasagaming Golf

Course in Clear Lake, Manitoba. The pair served as regular caddies for resident pro Johnnie Lawrence,

with whom Wilf golfed until Johnnie’s retirement. In 2014, Wilf and Ed spoke at the ceremony honoring

the renaming of the golf course road as Johnnie Lawrence Drive.

 

In 1939, Wilf took a job in northern Manitoba with the Hudson’s Bay Company, during which he received

instruction in wireless communications. When the Second World War began later that year, Wilf

answered the Navy’s call for wireless operators and was assigned to a base in Victoria, British Columbia,

where he monitored Japanese naval radio traffic. Later, he transferred to a submarine monitoring

station in Halifax and served on the HMCS Runnymede, a corvette escorting merchant ship convoys

across the Atlantic to Londonderry in Northern Ireland. His concluded his war service by teaching

wireless communications systems to groups of WRENS.

 

While both Wilf and Ed survived the war, the family didn’t emerge unscathed. The two younger twins

both died during the war, George while on an aerial patrol of the Mediterranean, Howard collapsing in a

munitions factory in Winnipeg, where he had sought to make some contribution to the war effort after

being ruled ineligible for service, due to his having been a ‘blue baby.’

 

After the war, Wilf took full advantage of a grateful government that offered veterans funding for post-

secondary education, earning Arts and Law degrees at the University of Manitoba. He then joined the

civil service and accepted a post at the Land Titles office in Winnipeg.

 

In Winnipeg, he attended St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, where he met his future wife Dorothy.

Married in 1961, the pair moved to Dauphin, where Wilf served as District Registrar of the local Land

Titles office. Their daughter Elspeth was born in 1962, followed by sons John and George in 1964and

1966, respectively.

 

Wilf’s father was the minister at St. George’s Anglican Church in Birtle for many years and helped shape

Wilf’s lifelong dedication to God and service to the church. Wilf served as treasurer for St. Paul’s

Anglican Church in Dauphin, while Dorothy served as organist. Throughout their lives, wherever they

resided, Wilf and Dorothy were active and vital members of the local church community.

 

Following Wilf’s retirement from the Land Titles office, he and Dorothy moved to MacGregor to be

closer to their new grandchildren, Wilf insisting upon the title of ‘Granddad’ instead of ‘Grandpa’, which

he found less dignified.

 

Dorothy passed away in 2011, but Wilf went on to celebrate his 100th birthday alongside Ed in 2017. Ed

died in 2019, leaving Wilf as the sole surviving sibling of the five Finch kids who had shared such happy

childhood experiences in Birtle all those years ago.

 

Wilf’s dedication to physical fitness and nutrition served him well in his final years, allowing him to live

relatively independently in his home until a series of falls necessitated a move to the Personal Care

Home shortly before his 104th birthday. True to form, he remained in good spirits, finding new methods

of exercising from the safety of his comfortable chair. He filled his days easily, talking with family and

friends and keeping up with the news, reading his daily paper from cover to cover.  

 

Imbued with a strong sense of fair play, Wilf lived his life according to a set of principles that, while he

was always able to consider arguments from both perspectives, left few wondering as to where he stood

on any particular issue. He stuck by those principles not just when they were convenient but even when

doing so might come at a personal cost. He chose to instill these same principles in his children, not through

long lectures or speeches but by leading through quiet example, a trait that endeared him to family,

friends and strangers alike.

 

Despite the many hardships and disappointments he faced throughout his life, he never lost his ability to

find humour in everyday moments, and his kids (and grandkids) took delight in their ability to make his

famously wide grin grow even wider. Even in later years, when his smile began to show fewer and fewer

teeth, there was no stopping that ear-to-ear grin.

 

With every birthday, Wilf would express some amazement at his longevity, along with a mild frustration

that the process of his shuffling off this mortal coil was taking so long. He would quickly add that he’d

enjoyed himself immensely during his time in this world but was now ready to see what the next world

had to offer. We who were the primary beneficiaries of his time on earth can only wish him well on his

journey, counting ourselves blessed for having had the privilege of knowing and loving him all these

years.

 

Wilf was predeceased by his wife Dorothy (née Whidden), his parents William John and Marie Louise

Finch (née Bailey), sister Nellie (Lockie), brothers Ed (Lee), George and Howard, and by Nellie’s son Peter

(Sandy). He is survived by his children Elspeth (Randy), John (Debra) and George, grandchildren Erin

(David), Lyndon, Aidan and Jordan, and great-grandchildren Isla and Nora.

 

Wilf is also survived by the remaining children of his sister Nellie and her husband Lockhart Fulton: Bruce

(Rosemarie); Geoff (Lynn) and children Lockhart, Evadne (Aaron) and Deirdre; Deborah; Jennifer (Don)

and daughters Vanessa and Liona; and Abigail (Karl).

 

In lieu of flowers, we would invite friends to make donations to their charities of choice.

 

 

 

 

To send flowers to Wilfred's family, please visit our floral store.


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