Lawrence Keith Finley, 89

Published 6:44 am Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Lawrence Keith Finley, 89, passed away Wednesday, May 16, 2019, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Home in Austin, Minnesota.

Lawrence Keith Finley, 89

Lawrence was born June 17, 1929, in LeRoy, Minnesota, to John and Dorris (Engstrom) Finley. He attended grade school in LeRoy and moved with his family to Rose Creek, Minnesota, when he was 10.  He enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces during his senior year at Rose Creek High School. He was proud to have been a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

He trained as an aircraft mechanic and was stationed in Guam when the Korean War broke out. He was transferred to Okinawa to be within striking distance of North Korea. While stationed in Germany from 1956 to 1960, Lawrence met and married Renata Weyrich. Their daughter, Donna Marie, was born there.

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In 1966, his orders took him to Vietnam. The men had to hurry to repair planes after attacks to get them back in the air as fast as possible. He volunteered for a second tour of duty. During that time, his base was shelled, so he often worried that he may not make it home again. Lawrence was decorated with the Bronze Star for his performance as an aircraft maintenance superintendent in Vietnam.

After his tour in Vietnam, he was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, which developed launching, tracking and recovery for the nation’s space program. Through his duties there, he got to know several astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin and Chuck Yeager.

Lawrence reached the military grade of Senior Master Sergeant, of which he was quite proud as only two percent of enlistments can attain that grade by law. He was a 27-year veteran and completed his high school education and some college credits while serving.

After his military retirement, he was employed by Northrop Corporation in Los Angeles, building aircraft for several more years. After retiring from Northrop, he moved back to Austin. After so many years of building and repairing aircraft, he bought his own plane and learned to fly at about age 80.

While living in the Los Angeles area, he met and married Victoria Rainwater, whose children became an important part of his life.  All of his siblings were very proud of their big brother “Bud” and were overjoyed when he came home on his 30-day leave. He loved the big family picnics and his family loved to hear his adventure stories as much as he liked to tell them. He was kind-hearted and generous by nature.

His greatest joy was spending time with his children and grandchildren. His stepdaughter, Sabra, and family were very special to him, and they were always there to lend a hand to “Pops.” We truly appreciate all they did for him. Bud will be remembered for his big smile and his “story-telling.”

Survivors include his son-in-law, Greg Froomer; grandsons, Drake and Grant Froomer; stepdaughters, Sabra Ann (Ken) Gray and Lisa Renee (Duane) Westman; step-grandchildren, James Westman, Kenneth (Erika) Gray, Miranda (Brad) Benson and Kayla Gray; sisters, Marion Rankin, Winifred (Ken) Greenlee, Janet Finley and Judith Jones; sisters-in-law, Violet Wick and Patricia Finley; aunts, Marjorie Conrad and Christine Finley; and many other nieces and nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Donna Marie Finley Froomer; parents, Dorris and John Finley; sisters, Lorraine Bublitz and Beverly Klusmeier; brothers, Virgil, Gordon and David Finley; nephew, John F. Holst; grandniece, Sara Finley; and grandnephews, Jon Watson, Nicholas Watson and Zachary Jones.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at Clasen-Jordan Mortuary with the Rev. Barbara Finley-Shea officiating. Visitation will be held one hour before the service on Tuesday at the funeral home. Interment will be at LeRoy Cemetery in LeRoy with Austin American Legion Post 91 and Olaf B. Damm Post VFW Post 1216 in charge of military rites. Memorials may be directed to the donor’s choice.