Mr. Finney died July 22, 2003 of respiratory failure in Westminster Ca, He was 79.
"He was one hell of a newsman. He didn't get rattled. He was demanding and fair," said Roy Grimm, a former managing editor of the Oakland Tribune who worked alongside Mr. Finney for more than 20 years. "He was one tough Marine, a real adversary in an argument."
However, he added, Mr. Finney always "somehow retained an underlying charm he had."
Mr. Finney was born May 24, 1924, in Durant, Okla., and grew up in Phoenix, one of 10 children. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and served three years in the South Pacific, fighting at Guadalcanal, Munda and Bougainville, where he was injured.
In 1948, he married Eleanor Phillips, and the couple moved to the Bay Area, where he enrolled at UC Berkeley. He graduated in 1951 with a degree in journalism and went from editor of the Daily Cal to a job as a copy reader with the Tribune. In the course of the next 27 years, he worked in a number of positions in the newsroom, including picture editor, assistant news editor and managing editor.
They were tumultuous years, with some of the biggest stories happening right in the paper's neighborhood: the Free Speech Movement; the anti-war protests of the 1960s and '70s; Huey Newton and the rise and fall of the Black Panthers; the 1973 murder of Oakland Schools Superintendent Marcus Foster, which was the prologue to the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army; the Hells Angels.
In 1967, Mr. Finney won the California Newspaper Publishers Association "Best Front Page" award.