Gene was born at home in Keeseville, N.Y., the eldest child of the late Francis and Eugenia (Picotte) Finnegan. He grew up in Canton, N.Y. and graduated from Canton High School where he played football as a quarterback. Gene worked many interesting jobs growing up, including as a beekeeper and working at a fruit market where he may have been seen rolling watermelons down the hill when business was slow. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a Cryptologist at the Pentagon. Through his military service, he became eligible for the GI Bill of Rights and attended St. Lawrence University where he received a B.S. in Science and Physical Education. He then obtained a student Dean position at Syracuse University where he received his M.S. in Guidance and Personnel.
It was at Syracuse University in October 1952 where he met Gussie Keady at the first Catholic Graduate Club at St. Thomas More Chapel. While dating, Gene took his first job at Waterville Central High School teaching seventh grade math and science and coaching football, basketball, and baseball while Gussie worked for the Syracuse Health Department. They were “pinned” in February and became engaged Christmas of 1953 and were married July 3, 1954. Their first home was in Waterville, NY before moving to Potsdam, NY where Gene took his first guidance counselor position at Colton-Pierpont and Parishville-Hopkinton Central Schools. In June 1958, he accepted a position as Guidance Director for the Skaneateles School District and the Finnegan’s moved to the mint green house at 38 Orchard Road where their family made many cherished memories. Gene and Gussie were very active within their local parish, St. Mary’s of the Lake, ministering as lectors and leading weekly prayer meetings for many years. Gene loved spending time with friends and family watching sports as a devoted fan of the New York Giants, Syracuse Orange, and the New York Yankees. As much as he loved sports, his greatest love was his family. Gene was a devoted and caring father and grandfather, or “Gpa,” who instilled his deep faith, dedication to family, and love of ice cream in his children and grandchildren. He was known for attending every first communion, dance recital, sporting event, and graduation he could, and he was loved by the extended community of his children and grandchildren.
Gene and Gussie’s loving relationship and faith was strong and together they raised and nurtured eight children, four boys and four girls, Michael (late), Thomas, Robert (Kathie), and Paul Finnegan, Mary Hoare, Carol (Robert) Ciullo, Laura (Ryan) Fannon and Sharon (George) Azzam.
Gene was the proud grandfather to 25 grandchildren, William, Jordan, Layne, Holly, Jason, Matthew, Shannon, Emily, Robert, Patrick, Kelly, Allison, Amanda, Andrea, Ashley, Brandon, Danielle, Elizabeth, Ryan, Marguerite, Grace, Hope, Nate, Keady and Faith.
He was blessed with six great-grandchildren, Liam, Finnegan, Landon, Arlo, Oakland, and Brooks.
He was sibling to James (late) (Janet) Finnegan, Alan (Sally) Finnegan, June (Charlie) Tucker, and Kathleen (late Frank Brenon and late Everett Brazie) Brenon. He is also survived by several nieces, nephews, and many good friends and former students.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Mary’s on the Lake Church, 81 Jordan St, Skaneateles, NY 13152, on Friday at 10 a.m. A private burial will take place in St. Mary’s Cemetery after the Mass.
In lieu of flower contributions, please make a donation to a charity of your choice in Eugene’s name.
To send condolences, visit robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.