LtCol. Robert K. Finlayson, United States Air Force (retired), of Gig Harbor, WA passed away on January 25, 2018; he was 89. A patriot, mentor, and devoted husband and father, “Fin” will be remembered as a man who was both a strong leader and a champion of those less fortunate. A man with a wonderful sense of humor and a compassionate heart, he never forgot his humble roots and was quick to help those in need – his family, his colleagues, his community, his world. He will be terribly missed by many.
Fin was born on December 28, 1928 in Traverse City, MI to Robert senior and Bess (Carter) Finlayson. Along with his two sisters, Nan and Barb, he was raised on a farm and before his tenth birthday, could be found driving a team of draft horses in local pulling contests. That fearless attitude set the tone for the rest of his life as he joined our nation’s Air Force in 1949, was commissioned a 2Lt in 1950, and soon found himself flying missions in the Korean conflict. He would receive an Air Medal for meritorious achievement in aerial flight and go on to accumulate more than 14,000 flight hours in the C-54, C-124, and C-141 aircraft. For 21 years the Air Force was his lifeblood and he carried that spirit with him all his days.
After returning from Korea in 1953, he met Mary (Rucker) Reeves of Ephrata, WA and the two were married the following January. They would spend the next 53 years together, raise three children (DeDe, Jem, and Robert), and travel the world. No matter where the Air Force took them, Fin and Mary would quickly reestablish a home full of adventure, fun, love, and warmth.
After retiring from the USAF in 1970, the Finlaysons settled in Gig Harbor. An entrepreneur at heart, Fin started several businesses including a service station in Tacoma, a second in Gig Harbor, a feed store in Key Center, and a land clearing and excavation enterprise. It was the last where he found his new professional passion and for the next 20 years, “RKF and Son” would play an important role in the growth of the region – from Puyallup to Poulsbo and everywhere in between.
In retirement Fin and Mary found themselves busy with family, serving the Agnus Dei Lutheran community, and traveling in their beloved RV. After Mary’s passing in 2007, Fin met Ms. Barbara Heiskell of Gig Harbor. The two were married a year later and would spend the next ten years together in the Harbor and Surprise, AZ.
Fin is survived by Barbara, his three children (DeDe Boerger and Jem Brown of Gig Harbor, and Robert of Huntingtown, MD), seven grandchildren, and fifteen great grandchildren. His extended family of nieces and nephews mourn his passing as well, though his legacy will be remembered through the many he touched, coached, encouraged, and help lead in this life.
A memorial will be held at Agnus Dei Lutheran Church in Gig Harbor at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, January 29th, with arrangements through Haven of Rest Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the American Cancer Society. The family would also like to extend their sincere thanks to the Weatherly Inn of North Tacoma and Franciscan Hospice for walking along side of us with compassion, patience, and encouragement. May God continue to go with you and all those you serve.
Donations may be made to:
American Cancer Society
2512 N Proctor St, Tacoma WA 98406