Robert Allan Finley, age 69, passed away after battling cancer May 16, 2023 surrounded by family at home in Cypress, TX. He was born June 7, 1953 in Denton, TX to Joan Apple (1927-2006) & Billy Jack Finley (1925-1997). Robert was a Hurricane Andrew Survivor, Small Business Owner, and FEMA first responder. Father to three and nurturer of many, he lived life with great authenticity, empathy, and fervor for adventure.
Robert grew up in Lufkin, TX, He attracted playmates on hot Texas afternoons by harking ‘Finley’s Cafe, free kool-aid’ alongside beloved sisters Beverly (‘48) and Nancy (‘52-’69). After graduating Lufkin High School (‘71), Robert married Brenda Winthrop (‘72), served at Lackland Air Force Base, and was honorably discharged. Though the union ultimately ended (‘76), he was gifted with his beloved son Robert Jason (‘74).
Robert and Deborah Joy Kaufman were married (‘78), and following their Florida Keys honeymoon they loaded back into their van and moved to tropical Homestead, Florida. Their two precious girls were born in Miami, Dayna Kathryne (‘88) and Sarah Elizabeth (‘96).
The Florida Years began a lifetime on the water windsurfing, diving for lobster, deep-sea fishing, camping in over-water chickees, excursions to Cuba, and many more adventures with the family and lifelong friend Bob Pratt. For several years he combined work and play as his career took him from commercial fisherman, to Charter Captain, to Ship Store Manager at Allied Marine Ocean Reef. He made many illustrious friends, but always remained authentically himself.
Back on land Robert’s motocross racing took the young family around the state. Robert was a uniquely gifted keyboardist who played by ear with his Rock & Roll band. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Homestead, and volunteered his talent leading music on Sunday mornings, with Dayna alongside. During Jason’s teenage years, Robert and Joy served as youth ministers together. They were also blessed with fostering four special children over the years.
Hurricane Andrew wrecked devastation in ‘92, and together the family survived. Robert launched ‘Finley’s Floor Covering’ just in time for the construction boom. On weekends they hopped in the RV for camping trips at Peace River, Wekiwa Springs, or further north in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The family moved cross-country to The Woodlands, TX to be closer to family (‘02). Robert launched a new career with the FEMA Catastrophe Team, combining disaster experience, construction, and his innate gift of empathy. With FEMA, and later Traveler’s Cat Team, he deployed across the country helping at the epicenters of the largest disasters of our time, including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, and Joplin F5 Tornado.
Robert married Jan Hansard (‘17) and together they enjoyed traveling, cooking, spending time with family, going on cruises, and breaking many casinos. They loved spending time at their deer lease in Jasper County, where Rob and Jason played guitars around the campfire. Robert was a source of fatherly wisdom and advice for his girls Dayna & Sarah as they graduated college and became independent young adults. They always looked forward to the next trip, back to the Florida Keys.
Although his illness struck suddenly, at the end he was surrounded by a large family who loved him, including numerous Finleys, Hansards, McClures, Sloughs, Jacksons, and many more.
Left to cherish his memories are his spouse Janyvette Hansard, and loving children: Robert Jason & Bethany Finley, Dayna Finley & Taylor Jackson, and Sarah Elizabeth Finley. He will be deeply missed by his sister Beverly Finley & Wesley Slough, Uncle Jim Finley, Aunt Kate Apple Wood, his 5 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, and many loving nieces, nephews, and relatives.
Robert is preceded in death by: his parents Joan & Billy Jack Finley, former wife Brenda Winthrop, and beloved sister and partner in crime Nancy Finley Grider.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at Cypress-Fairbanks Funeral Home, Houston, Texas, officiated by Pastor Wesley Slough. A graveside service will follow that afternoon at Houston National Cemetery.
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