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Dedicated educator, Raymond C. Finke dies at home at 73; spent 22 years in Covington schools

Staff report

Raymond C. Finke, Jr. spent most of his life working in the educational field on both sides of the Ohio River.

Finke worked in Cincinnati Public Schools and Covington Independent Public Schools for more than 50 years.

Finke, 73, passed away Monday, May 16, at his home in North Bend, Ohio.

“Mr. Finke was a dedicated educator and friend,” said Ken Kippenbrock, executive director of Human Resources and Operations for Covington schools. “When you asked him how he was, he would almost always answer ‘I’ve never had it better,’ and he meant it.”

Raymond Finke

In the 22 years he worked in Covington Schools, Finke served as principal of Holmes High School, director of Transportation and  Court Liaison in the Pupil Personnel Office.

“He genuinely enjoyed working with students, families and staff,” Kippenbrock said. “He served over 50 years in public education because he chose to. His humor, wit and wisdom will be missed.”

Finke began his career as a Social Studies teacher, teaching at Campbell Junior High, Schwab Junior High, Cutter Junior High and Walnut Hills. He became an administrator in 1978, serving as assistant principal at Gamble Middle School, then at Walnut Hills High School. In 1981, he returned to Gamble Middle, this time as principal. From 1984-1992, Finke served as principal at Western Hills High School.

“When Ray would start working with a school that was struggling, people would tell him it was a lost cause,” said Finke’s stepdaughter, Meredith Sanders. “But Ray didn’t believe any school or any student was a lost cause. He got a genuine thrill out of taking a school that other people had given up on and turning it into a thriving institution. He inspired change first among the educators, and invariably, the students would respond.”

Finke was honored with many educational awards including the Cincinnatus Society James N. Jacob Distinguished Administrator Award and the Cincinnati Counsel of PTA’s Educator of the Year. In 1989, Finke was presented with a Key to the City of Cincinnati by Mayor Charlie Luken and the Western Hills High School Alumni Association.

Finke also enjoyed watching the hometown sporting teams. He was a die-hard fan of the Reds, Bengals and the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. Finke cherished life and nothing meant more to him than his family. He adored his wife, Joyce, and was devoted to his children and grandchildren.

“When I meet teachers who have worked with Ray, I can immediately tell that his passion for teaching and for his students has really left an impression on them,” said Justin Sanders, Finke’s son-in-law.  “I saw the same passion in his interactions with my kids, his grandkids. His love and appreciation for young people really stood out and was a central theme in his life and career.”

Services will be held Saturday, May 21, in the auditorium at Western Hills High School, 2144 Ferguson Road.  Visitation is from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and is open to the public. A service to celebrate Finke’s life will follow.

To share a memory of Ray or send a condolence to his family, please visit www.neidhardminges.com and sign the virtual guestbook. In lieu of flowers, Finke’s family requests that donations be made to the Red Wolf Sanctuary, P.O. Box 202, Rising Sun, IN 47040 (https://www.redwolf.org/general-donation). 

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