Jeanne was born in Pocatello, Idaho, the middle child of three. She spent her younger years sleeping in backyard hammocks, playing with her dog Katy, and riding her horse at Uncle Walt’s farm. Her father was a university agriculture professor, and the family eventually settled in Laramie, Wyoming, where Jeanne graduated from high school and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Wyoming. A brief marriage produced two sons who would be Jeanne’s passion and devotion to the end. She enjoyed and supported their interests in music, swimming, and skiing. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren fondly remember sharing concerts, plays, books, and art projects with Grandma Finch.
Jeanne found her niche in the newspaper business as an advertising professional. It combined her enjoyment of connecting with the community and its people with her considerable skills as an artist and strategist. In Wyoming she worked for the Sheridan Press and the Laramie Boomerang. In 1971 she packed up the boys and moved to Grand Junction to work at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel until her retirement in 1998. She then had the chance to “just do something fun and interesting,” and for many years she worked in Grande River Vineyards’ tasting room and cared for their gardens.
Devoted, brave, compassionate, strong, intelligent, and funny are all aspects of who Jeanne was. She broke into a male-dominated career and earned respect and admiration. She raised two boys as a single working mother with remarkable independence, devotion, and commitment. She had a special ability to create and nurture deep social bonds with friends and community members from all walks of life. Jeanne was a life-long learner who took full advantage of opportunities to educate herself about the world around her, learn new skills, and find beauty. She was an avid reader and passionate about the theater, music, the arts, and animals.
Most of all, Jeanne’s sense of compassion and service compelled her to share her passions and skills with others. Her joy of reading and belief in the power of literacy to create change guided her to tutor adults in reading, serve on community literacy boards, become a storyteller in the schools through Spellbinders, teach at the Math and Science Center, and volunteer for the Friends of Mesa County Libraries. Her passion for supporting women’s education was expressed through 63 years of active membership in the P.E.O. Sisterhood. Her love of gardening shone through as a Master Gardener for CSU Extension and as a volunteer for the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. Her brother Jim shared that “Jeanne had an amazing knack for not only seeing things as they are, but as they could be, and she had the will and the determination to make ‘could be’ a reality.” She lived an engaged and enthusiastic life, which will resonate far beyond her years on earth, and her example serves as inspiration for those who had the fortune to know her.
Jeanne is preceded in death by her parents Irvin and Mary Slater, her younger brother Robert Slater, and her sister-in-law Karol Slater. She is survived by her brother James Slater, sons Greg (Alice) Finch and Brad (Karen) Finch, granddaughters Amanda (Baker) Harold and Megan (Finch) Bates and great-grandchildren Joslyn, Madison, Lara, and Jackson, nieces Heidi Kimball, Jamie (Jon) Benedict, Jennifer Slater, Paula (David Lischner) Slater, nephews John (Felicia) Slater and Daniel (Ann) Slater, and countless friends.
A small, private service will be held for family and friends at the First Presbyterian Church in an effort to maximize social distancing during this time of pandemic. A memorial webpage, www.jeannefinch.net, serves as a virtual gathering place to share photos, stories, and memories of Jeanne. A community project is also being planned as an opportunity to celebrate Jeanne’s life of service. Details will be posted on the memorial site.