Chris L. FinchSeptember 9, 1953 ~ June 30, 2017 (age 63)
Christopher Lynn “Chris” Finch was born to Charles Harrison “Chuck” and Barbara Jeane “Bobbie” Finch on September 9, 1953 at Fort Riley, Kansas. After Chuck’s discharge from the Army, the family returned to Chariton, Iowa where Chris was raised. Chris passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 30, 2017 at the age of 63 years, 9 months and 21 days at his home in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chris grew up and attended school in Chariton. Despite being ornery and annoying numerous teachers and school administrators, he graduated with the Chariton High School Class of 1971. After graduation from high school Chris worked at Finch Conoco, Bookey Packing Plant, and other jobs until enlisting in the United States Army and becoming a pilot of UH1 “Huey” helicopters.
After leaving the army, Chris attended Iowa State University for a couple of years, but missed the sky. He returned to flying by moving to Alaska where he flew helicopters on the North Slope during the final construction of the Alaska pipeline. Eventually, Chris and family returned to the Midwest and he became a Life Flight pilot at St. Joseph’s hospital in Omaha, where he met Liz, a flight nurse, and they were married on December 19, 1987 in Glenwood, Iowa.
While living in Glenwood Chris was early pioneer in soil sampling for agricultural purposes and started a business called Soil Systems to help farmers determine where to apply fertilizer on their land to maximize crop yields and minimize expense and harm to the environment. The business was unfortunately about 15 years ahead of its’ time. Now, everybody is doing it!.
Eventually Chris, Liz, Megan, Travis and Maria returned the Des Moines area and Chris worked for the Iowa Department of Emergency Management during the recovery from the 1993 floods. Finally, Chris joined the folks at Central Trailer Sales and Service, where he became the parts manager and made many friends that lasted through the rest of his life.
Throughout his life, Chris was a passionate outdoorsman, who loved hunting and fishing and sharing those activities with his family and friends. It could be said that Chris found people who did not have a love for the outdoors just a little bit “suspect.” Even if he wasn’t hunting or fishing, Chris would often go to the country just to walk and think. The hills, woods and outdoors were where he felt closest to God.
Chris had many wonderful hunting dogs in his lifetime, many of which we buried in the back yard of the family home in Chariton. He will be interred with the ashes of his beloved English Setter, “Chirp.” His surviving dogs, Doc and Greta remain to care for Chris’ family.
Family was very important to Chris and he enjoyed hosting family gatherings at holidays and other family dinners. However, if you were ever late for one of those dinners, he never let you live it down. One of his favorite past times was smoking meat in his smoker. He was such a good cook that we often thought he may have missed his calling!
Chris loved and was very proud of his wife and each of his children and provided them as much support as he could. He especially loved his grandson Garrett Gazda and was looking forward to his new grandchild that is on the way.
Chris was also quite proud of his membership in the Masonic Lodge. He joined the Chariton Lodge many years ago, at the request of his father, and has recently been active in the Lodge in Windsor Heights. Chris was very happy that his son Travis has chosen to carry on the family tradition of freemasonry.
No life story of Chris would be complete without some humor because he really did have a very good and sometimes juvenile sense of humor. For example, one day when working at our dad, Chuck’s, service station, Dad told Chris to go get a haircut. When Chris returned from the haircut, Dad was still not happy. So, Chris went back to the barber and returned to work with a shaved head. Dad couldn’t say much about that one, but little brother Craig remembers coming to the station on his way home from grade school, seeing the back of Chris’s bald head and asking Dad when and why he hired the old bald guy.
Chris was always adventurous and sort of lived life at 100 mph; in fact he had a ‘57 Chevy and later a ‘69 Plymouth GTX that he drag raced at the Eddyville drag strip (“legally”) and sometimes on the Oakley road (“illegally”). Many of you can’t say too much about the Oakley road racing because the statute of limitations is up and chances are you were probably there, too. Several of his adventures made one wonder if he had nine lives like a cat, which would be kind of ironic since he hated cats.
Chris is survived, and will be missed by: his wife Elizabeth “Liz” Finch of Des Moines; his daughter Megan Gazda and her husband Jim of Houston, Texas; his grandson Garrett Gazda of Houston, Texas; his son Travis Finch and his wife Cassy and their baby to be debuting in October 2017 of Bondurant, Iowa: and his daughter Maria Finch of Des Moines, and her special friend Jordan Loebig.
Also left to cherish memories of Chris are his: mother Bobbie Finch, sister Wendy (Tom) Levis; brother Craig Finch; nephew Tucker Levis, all of West Des Moines; nephew Hunter Levis, currently of Montezuma, Colorado; aunt and uncle Donna and Neil Smith, of Chariton; aunt and uncle Marilyn and Wes Finch, of Grinnell, Iowa; uncle Joe (Beth) Draegert, of Stockton, CA; cousins Jane (Kenny) Haines, Jeff (Gina) Finch, Taylor (Tyson) Brandt, Jordan (Jordan) Smith, Morgan Finch; and a host of other cousins and friends too numerous to name.
Chris was preceded in death by his father Chuck Finch; and grandparents Ernest “Doc” and Golda Finch, and Addison and Harriett Draegert.
Those of us who knew and loved Chris resigned ourselves the fact that Chris just never quite grasped the concept that the entire world did not revolve his preferred time schedule. So brother, at least for these few days, we are adjusting everything to your schedule.
Memorial contributions may be made to Chris’ family to be determined later.