The Journey Continues: Stan Finch
My journey this week takes me to Stan Finch — when honest feelings and emotions are shared, you know you are talking to an “authentic person.”
Born and raised in Austin, Finch graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in agricultural engineering in 1984. He landed in San Marcos in 1993.
Finch is an astute observer of human nature. He recently gave me a copy of the book, "The Cedar Choppers, Life on the Edge of Nothing," by Ken Roberts.
“Jim," he said, “I think you will enjoy reading this book because it defines the culture, values and behavior of some marginalized, hyper-independent people, who lived in the country west of Austin. They made their living by cutting, transporting and selling cedar fence posts made from mountain juniper cedar trees.
“I know their work journey," he continued. "After college, I paid my way through flight school by chopping cedar. My friend and I cut line posts 6-anda-half-foot long by four inch top diameter and we specialized in 8-foot-long corner posts. It was hot, hard work and there were rattlesnakes."
He still has the chain saw he used back then.
"All I had ever wanted to do was be a pilot," Finch said. "Eyes not good enough for the Air Force, I had gone the civilian/commercial route, and worked my way to TWA (Trans World Airlines) with my chainsaw.
“My life’s journey is incomplete without addressing two stars," he said, "God and my wife Linda."
The signature event in his life, according to Finch, was a severe health issue that first occurred at age 27, just after going to work for TWA as a pilot. Over the course of a few weeks, while still in training at TWA, he completely lost the use of both arms from the shoulders down.
"The outlook was uncertain – all the doctors could say is that it might improve at some point, but there were no guarantees. My career as an airline pilot seemed over just as it had started," Finch said. "TWA didn’t need pilots that couldn’t move their arms. Our lives changed dramatically. It was early in our marriage, and not the routine that we expected."
Linda Finch was a young professional woman who now had to feed, dress, take and help her husband to the bathroom. But she never hesitated, according to Finch,
"She never was impatient, never gave any hint that I was accruing any sort of debt," he said. "This was quite a revelation. God worked through Linda and that illness to open my eyes to his unconditional love, delivered to me by my wife. It was an education in a value system. I was well acquainted with the world’s performance-based value system. And I had heard about God’s value system based on God’s unmerited favor – but I didn’t really understand it until I saw his unconditional love in action. It’s much harder to distract oneself when one can’t move their arms, so God and Linda had a captive audience and my very close attention. Linda, through her actions as a caregiver to someone no longer an earner, no longer a pilot, no longer able to perform, displayed true unconditional love.”
Stan Finch is a champion of the sky. The rest of the story is that he regained his health and continued in the aviation world as a designer of a computer program that facilitates flight operations and as operations officer for Berry Aviation, a private contractor providing air support for United States Government/Military entities, which is located at the San Marcos Airport. Traveling worldwide, he is at home in the offices of Lloyds of London; on short runways on Pacific Islands; in parts of Africa including Burkina Faso; and in Afghanistan; wherever mission contracts requires Berry Aviation to fly.
Recently promoted to President of Berry Aviation, Finch is well-respected, steady and always concerned for the welfare of his subordinates.
“The Lord does not look at things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at his heart.” I Samuel 16:7b
As a man of faith, Finch’s servant-heart shows in many ways, through his work with Boy Scouts Troop 112, as the former president of directors of the San Marcos Baptist Academy; as chairman of the deacons and Sunday school teacher for the youth at First Baptist Church on McCarthy Lane.
Finch is a mission-minded person. Over the years, the Finch family has participated in water well drilling in Belize; taking part in summer programs like “Mission Good Neighbors” at Redwood Baptist Church; Mission Able community projects, as well as his ongoing deacon family duties.
His life verse is:
“For it is by his grace you have been saved, through faithand this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Finch says, “A person’s value system drives their life; I’d like to think that the neuropathy challenge Linda and I faced was used by God to change everything for good in our lives.”