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Jerry Finnell, A Community Leader
March 2008 | Penny Abell

People knew Jerry Finnell as a wise, patient friend and public figure, and as a fun guy.

Jerry loved to dance. His renowned sense of responsibility was not his only reason for attending and supporting all the Del Mar fundraisers and community events. He loved sharing good times with his wife Kathy and his many friends.

Jerry succumbed to pneumonia on Tuesday, February 19, after a tough fight against acute myeloid leukemia, initially diagnosed in September 2006. Flags in the City were at half-staff in his honor.

Long-time City Council member Mayor David Druker characterized Jerry as a passionate colleague who rarely showed his emotions but was totally committed to the good of the City: “Jerry was the best Council colleague I've known in avoiding partisanship and self-interest.”

Jerry, with siblings Marilyn, Carolyn and Larry, grew up in tiny Kelso, California. Jerry attended a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. Having mastered the math curriculum, he helped teach the other children during his last two years. An accident shortly after high school graduation resulted in a permanent injury to his left hand, crushing Jerry's dream of playing baseball professionally. As his Del Mar pals know, he maintained his athletic activity as an enthusiastic tennis player.

Jerry was an irrepressible party guy in his first two years of college. With a nudge from the UCLA academic dean he then began to earn straight “A”s. After graduation, Jerry immediately passed his CPA exam and went to work for Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co in Los Angeles and remained with the company through all its mergers. He retired as a senior partner of KPMG in 1995. He and Kathy moved from Chicago to Del Mar in 1996.

Known for their ability to make quick, sensible decisions, Jerry and Kathy agreed to marry in September 1963 after only five months of dating. Their children, Donald with his wife Yuan Qi and Jennifer with her husband Grant Hogg, live in San Diego. During Jerry's illness, the brightest new light in his life was Donald's son Jason, born in November 2006, just two months after Jerry's initial diagnosis.

Once Jerry retired to Del Mar, he became the quintessential community volunteer, serving as the founding Board Treasurer for Del Mar Community Connections, City Finance Committee chair, community utilities undergrounding leader, and Del Mar Mayor and multiterm City Councilor. His kindness, moderation, intelligence, work ethic, and generosity solved problems and made Del Mar a better place to live.

“Any time a person envisions the long term possibilities, and persistently works with others to achieve a better future -- that is leadership. Jerry was a leader,” said Terry Sinnott, neighbor and volunteer colleague.

We will miss Jerry Finnell.


The family requests that memorial donations be directed to The Gerald Finnell Memorial Fund for AML Reasearch.  Checks payable to the UCSD Foundation should be sent to:

Moores Cancer Center, ATTN: Pam Warner
3855 Health Sciences Drive 0658
La Jolla, CA 92093



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