Lieutenant Colonel George M. Finnerty, USMC, Retired, 68, of West Chester, PA, passed peacefully on Thursday October 22, 2020, with his beloved wife of 45 years, Kathleen and five sons by his side.
Grandson of Irish and Ukrainian immigrants, George was born in Brooklyn, NY to Thomas & Mary Finnerty. After graduating High School at Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan, George began his life journey to Pennsylvania in 1970, where he attended Villanova University as a Marine Option midshipman in the NROTC program. Shortly after, he joined Whiskey Company, the NROTC program’s award winning drill team. George enjoyed time spent with Whiskey Company members both inside and outside of John Barry Hall, creating the many stories that brighten faces today.
George met the love of this life, Kathleen Conway, shortly after her arrival to Villanova in the fall semester of 1972. Upon his Villanova graduation in May 1974 and completion of Marine Basic School in Quantico, VA, George and Kathleen married on December 28, 1974
After completing the United States Army Armor School (Basic) in Fort Knox, KY, George was deployed in April 1975 to Okinawa, Japan for his first 13 month unaccompanied deployment. Following his safe return from overseas and Kathleen’s graduation, the couple relocated to 29 Palms, CA (The Stumps) where they enjoyed meeting many lifelong friends on their first tour as husband and wife. During his career, George held command assignments in all three Marine Corps Tank Battalions. The Military Occupational Specialty “1802” can be found on his car’s license plate and is a fond reminder of his always being a “tanker”. Additionally, George spent two tours on recruiting duty - the “Fighting Ninth” in Indianapolis and Executive Officer of Philadelphia fourth district, attended United States Army Armor School (Advanced) and the Armed Forces Staff College in Virginia and truly loved returning to Villanova University for a tour as the Marine Officer Instructor in their NROTC program.
During his Marine Corps service, George was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two Gold Stars, Navy Achievement Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal with 1 Gold Star.
In 1990, with the support of his wife and five sons (now one son per duty station!), George and Kathleen made their final PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move. Wanting a place to call “home” to raise their family, George and Kathleen chose West Chester, PA with no regrets. Utilizing the experience from his final tour in recruiting, George easily transitioned upon his retirement from active duty in 1994 to a second successful career leading federal sales efforts with several global technology & defense companies. Whether in the Marine Corps or business, George was known for taking care of his people and he did!
While advocating a strong work ethic, anyone who knew him understood that he knew there was also a time to play. In his spare time, George would enjoy a cruise in his ’63 VW Beetle, grilling, vacations in Avalon, rooting for the Villanova Wildcats as a 35-year basketball season ticket holder, adopting and cheering for the Philadelphia sports teams as his own, a good party, a hot fire and an ICE cold beer. George also loved time spent with his canine family… Boxers - Casey, Jake and most recently Nova. George had a great sense of humor and tremendous smile. His greatest lesson to his sons was to always surround yourself with good people.
A Parishioner of St. Agnes Parish for over 30 years, George was a man of strong faith… a faith that guided him through the last year. Always leading by example, he fought his battle with cancer head on with strength, courage and a “Happy Heart”.
George was most proud of his large, loving family. George is predeceased by his parents Thomas and Mary, and an infant brother Michael. George is survived by his wife Kathleen and his sons Michael (Nadine), Thomas (Jennifer), James, John (Kelly), and Joseph (Stephanie) and nine grandchildren Emma, Colin, Olivia, Liam, Katie, Tyler, Gregory, Lucas, George, and grandchild #10 due to arrive in January ‘21. George also immensely loved his many in-laws, nieces, nephews, colleagues, friends, and countless Marines around the world.
A public viewing will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2020 from 6pm to 9pm at St. Agnes Church 233 W Gay St, West Chester, PA 19380 (Please use the New Street parking lot entrance) . Covid-19 health guidelines will be in effect.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private funeral Mass will be held on Friday October 30, 2020 at 10am at St. Thomas of Villanova Church at 800 E. Lancaster Ave, Villanova, PA 19085.
Live streaming of the services will be available here Friday October 30th at 9:55am: https://vums-web.villanova.edu/Mediasite/Play/ac840038ef5b4c6eab9132d75c95c0211d
George’s burial with full military honors will be open to all at 12pm at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery at 1600 S Sproul Rd, Springfield, PA 19064
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of George can be made to either of the following:
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to the children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen with a financial need. Donations can be made at mcsf.org or mailed to MCSF, 909 N. Washington St, Ste. 400, Alexandria, VA 22314. Please include a note that your contribution is being made in memory of LtCol George Finnerty, USMC (Ret.)
Villanova University - Thomas P. Driscoll Scholarship C/O Villanova University Development Office 800 Lancaster Ave. Villanova, PA 19085
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. 410 N. Church St. West Chester, PA 19380 610-696-1181; www.DellaFH.com
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
909 N. Washington St, Ste. 400, Alexandria VA 22314
Villanova University - Thomas P. Driscoll Scholarship
800 Lancaster Ave, Villanova PA 19085