Jimmie "Jim" Lee Finley, 88, passed away peacefully in his sleep Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at his home in Thomson, Ga.
Jim is survived by his daughter, Janet Finley Wagner of Salt Lake City, Utah; and his sons, James Robert Finley of Aiken, S.C., and John Douglas Finley of Sardis, Ga. He also leaves behind two grandchildren, Brittany Baggott of Salt Lake City, and Kyle (and Karli) Amsbaugh of Hubert; four great-grandchildren, Blake, J.D., Kendel, and Kaydence; and his sister, Judy Causby of Marion. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Annette Johnson Finley, his parents, two brothers, and one sister.
Born in Marion, to Ernest and Mattie Finley, he joined the U.S. Navy after high school, and served our country honorably for 22 1/2 years. He spent much of his Navy career at sea, including his favorite assignment, the USS Ft. Mandan (LSD-21). He traveled extensively to the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Caribbean, among many other places. He was a Machinist's Mate and achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He participated in the Hungarian refugee evacuation/resettlement and the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Korean War veteran, he often spoke of his time in the Navy as the happiest of his life.
His Navy adventures sparked a lifelong love of travel. He and his wife took many extensive road trips across the United States, with a goal of visiting all the continental U.S. states (which he only missed by two). He was particularly enamored with Lewis and Clark's famous exploration of the west, and visited as many national parks, monuments, and encampments along their route as he could. When he wasn't traveling, his many hobbies included coin collecting, fixing anything he could get his hands on, hunting, fishing, cheering on his beloved NC Tar Heels, and taking care of his lawn and gardens. While stationed in Cuba, Jim golfed frequently, and won several trophies in semi-professional and celebrity tournaments, where he was often mistaken for Bing Crosby! Despite his stern, gruff persona, his soft heart enjoyed feeding the hummingbirds that frequented his garden and watching "his" wild rabbits cavort and play in the backyard. Jim had three great loves of his life: his family, the mountains of western North Carolina (which he called "God's country"), and the Navy.
A graveside service with military honors will be held at Oak Grove Cemetery in Marion, Saturday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. Honorary pallbearers will be Roy Chandler of Sardis, Ga. and John "Bud" Pitman of Edgefield, S.C.
He will then be laid to rest with his parents, brothers, and baby sister amidst the majesty of his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains.
Beggs Funeral Home, 799 Cobbham Rd. in Thomson, Ga., is honored to serve the family of Mr. Jim Finley.