Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Lee Finch

  •      Lee Finch's birthday won't get mentioned by Willard Scott, but he's getting closer.

         Finch celebrated his 90th birthday this week and his family gathered to mark the occasion.

         Now retired, Finch told the Globe his hobbies are "Lions Club and being lazy."

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  • Lee Finch's birthday won't get mentioned by Willard Scott, but he's getting closer.
    Finch celebrated his 90th birthday this week and his family gathered to mark the occasion.
    Now retired, Finch told the Globe his hobbies are "Lions Club and being lazy."
    Chapter one
    Bryant Lee Finch was born and raised in Oakland, Calif.
    When World War II broke out, Finch, like many other young men, enlisted and embarked on a series of training at bases all over the world.
    In September of 1944, Finch transferred to San Antonio where an Air Service Group was being formed.
    Finch made an important decision in San Antonio.
    "So many people mispronounced and misspelled Bryant that I decided to introduce myself as Lee Finch in the future."
    The first person he introduced himself to with the new name was a young woman he met at a USO dance. She was a corporal stationed at Randolph Field. Her name was Madeline.
    They kept in touch when Finch was transferred to Fresno and then to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma for more training.
    They met in Fort Worth for Christmas. He proposed and she said yes.
    Finch was transferred to McCook in January of 1945, where his unit worked on B-29 Superfortresses. Madeline joined him for a weekend and they were married in the McCook Methodist Church.
    A few weeks later, Finch found himself at the end of one assignment but without orders to return to McCook. he hopped a flight to Randolph to see Madeline but couldn't find a flight back so he hitchhiked.
    When he finally got back, a day late, it was 2 a.m. and he didn't have a pass so he tried to climb the fence.
    He was caught, put in the guard house and scheduled for court-martial.
    He manage to talk the provost marshal out of any punishment.
    When the war ended, Finch was given the choice of going to instrument school or becoming an Army recruiter. He chose the latter.
    In July of 1947, stationed at Keesler AAF in Biloxi, he was offered another choice: work in base recruiting or on the base newspaper.
    He chose the newspaper and became sports editor.
    With one young son and another on the way, Finch and his family suffered through some rough living quarters in Mississippi.
    "First, we liven in a one-room beach cottage and then in an apartment in Biloxi that was infested with mice and roaches. The night Bill was born, we moved to Hut City, an old barracks that did not have toilet or bathing facilities."
    Finch was soon promoted to Staff Sergeant and the family moved into a nice three-bedroom apartment on base.
    Page 2 of 2 - Another string of assignments took Finch overseas and away from his family.
    The cold war was heating up and the Korean Conflict was starting.
    Finch's last assignment was at Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia.
    He was NCOIC of the Information Office and editor of the base newspaper.
    Finch was finishing up 21 years of service and seemed to be headed overseas again, so he decided to retire.
    Looking for civilian employment, Finch had offers for jobs in New Mexico, California and Florida but none of them started immediately.
    With no income and six mouths to feed, Finch needed a job right away.
    The only offer for immediate employment came from Jess Denious, publisher of the Daily Globe in Dodge City. Finch accepted the job and moved his family to Dodge City.
    Chapter two
    Readers of the Daily Globe will remember Lee Finch as the managing editor and author of the popular "Checkin' Back" column.
    Finch spent his first ten years at the Globe as sports editor before taking the managing editor position, which he held for 15 years before retiring in 1988.
    "I worked at the Globe for 24 years and 362 days," Finch said in a recent interview.
    Madeline, who had retail sales experience working in base exchanges, took a job with F. W. Woolworth in their downtown dimestore. She moved with the store when it opened in the new Village Square Mall.
    The couple joined the First United Methodist Church. Lee was active in the Duplicators' Bridge Club and belonged to the Boot Hill Model Railroad Club and the Ford-Bucklin-Dodge City Railroad.
    At the Globe, Finch ran the newsroom with an eye for detail and an ear for what was going on in the community.
    Finch estimates that he wrote over 3,500 "Checkin' Back" columns during his tenure. He used the column to point out problems in the community but also to praise achievements around town.
    When publisher Jess Denious stepped down and his daughter, Martha Muncy, took the reins, Finch continued to enjoy working for the family-owned newspaper.
    Following a change of ownership in 1988, and after 25 years with the paper, Finch retired from the newsroom.
    Upon retiring from the Globe, Finch enrolled in classes at St. Mary of the Plains, graduating in 1989. He worked briefly in public relations for Dodge City Community College before permanently retiring in 1990.
    "I still read the Globe," Finch said. "You know, the sports page and I glance at the front and I look at the obituaries — just like a lot of people."

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