WARM tributes have been paid to a popular local clergyman and devoted family man who became the area dean.
Canon Jack Finney, who has died aged 88, enjoyed a four-decade association with the Church of England in the borough which began as a curate at Leigh St Mary’s in the 1960s.
He served as area dean between 1984 and 1993 and before that was vicar at St Stephen’s Church in Astley and St Mary’s Church in Leigh.
Parishioners at the Leigh church fondly remembered his love of his work in the church, his sense of humour both in and out of the pulpit and his care for his flock.
The tribute prepared by several members of the St Mary’s congregation said: “He brought to everything he did a unique blend of compassion and humour. Indeed at times he resembled no-one so much as Eric Morecambe.
“Many will remember his visits to them at home or in hospital in terms of the healing comfort he brought.
“He and his wife Barbara led parish holidays which were punctuated by regular gales of laughter. These and his own holidays provided a rich vein of material for his meticulously-prepared sermons.
“If he had a hallmark it was his self-deprecatory sense of humour. An example of this was his enjoyment in retelling a meeting with a local lady in the street. She greeted him with: ‘Didn’t you used to be Jack Finney?’
“He was devout without being pious. He could be all things to everyone. He was a much-loved vicar and friend.”
Canon Finney and Barbara were married for 51 years and have two sons, Danny and Patrick, as well as four grandchildren.
He studied at Sheffield University, graduating with his BA in 1952, before attending Ripon Hall in Oxford for theological training.
Ordained in 1962, he started his career as a curate in Leigh the same year, serving for three years. He returned to the borough in 1974 to take up the vicar’s position in Astley, which he held for nine years.
He became vicar of St Mary’s in Leigh in 1983 and took up the role of area dean the following year, holding the position for nine years and remaining as vicar in the borough until 1997.
He also served as chaplain to hospitals in the borough and to a Mayor of Wigan as well as working with a division of Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
During his career he also served as a vicar in the Isle of Man and as a chaplain at Hockerill College in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire.
His funeral is on Thursday, August 6 at 11.30am at St Katharine’s Church in Blackrod.