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James J. Finnerty, MD, MA

February 27, 2022

James J. FinnertyJAMES J. FINNERTY, MD, MA passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 27, 2022.

Born March 15, 1929 in Brooklyn, NY to James F. and Anna (Maloney) Finnerty, he graduated from Brooklyn Prep High School, Niagara University, class of 1951 and New York Medical College, class of 1955. Growing up in Brooklyn, James worked at Ebbets Field and the Schaeffer Brewery whilst attending high school, college, and medical school.

James and Patricia Cullen were married on December 26, 1953 at St. Theresa's Church in Brooklyn, NY.

After medical school, James completed his internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sisters of Charity Hospital, Buffalo, NY from 1955 to 1959. Dr. Finnerty was commissioned in The United States Air Force as a Captain and proudly served as Chief of OB/GYN and Deputy Hospital Commander at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, NV from 1959 to 1961. Upon completion of his military service, Dr. Finnerty entered practice with Dr. James Fitzgerald in Watertown, NY. He practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology for 30 years, delivering thousands of babies at Mercy Hospital and The House of The Good Samaritan, serving as President of the Medical Staff at both hospitals. During this time Dr. Finnerty served as an Associate Professor in OB/GYN at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY. He also spent many years as City Health Officer for Watertown, NY.

The Finnertys were long time communicants of St. Patrick's Parish in Watertown and were active in many parish activities. Dr. Finnerty was a life-long member of the Knights of Columbus.

Upon retiring from private medical practice, Dr. and Mrs. Finnerty relocated to Charlottesville, VA, where Dr. Finnerty taught at the University of Virginia Medical School as an Assistant Clinical Professor until 2004. While at UVa, he earned a master's degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on medical ethics. As a 65-year-old member of the 1994 graduating class, he was the oldest student to "walk the lawn" at UVa. In addition to his passion for teaching, he wrote and lectured on medical ethics and participated in the medical ethics consult program for the UVa Medical Center assisting families with difficult end of life decisions. The faculty and students at the UVa School of Medicine recognized him as an outstanding teacher numerous times during his tenure.

In 2004 Dr and Mrs. Finnerty moved to Latham, NY to be close to their family. Dr. Finnerty continued teaching medical ethics at Albany Medical College until 2017. He was also an occasional guest lecturer at Siena College in Loudonville, NY on medical ethics.

Dr. Finnerty was honored with the Dean's Award, College of Arts and Sciences from Niagara University at his 60th Reunion in 2011.

Throughout his medical career Dr. Finnerty was guided by the need to pass along compassionate, professional standard of care to medical students and to assist them in developing an ethical and caring approach to their profession. Dr. Finnerty loved working with students, and it was a highlight of his academic career. He drew a great deal of energy from the intellectual engagement with his students and always felt he was learning as much from them as he was imparting to them.

Dr. Finnerty learned to ski at age 37 and enjoyed skiing at Dry Hill Ski Area, Snow Ridge, and on annual ski trips with his family and friends. Dr. and Mrs. Finnerty have had a summer cottage on Lake Ontario since 1964 and loved having all the family there enjoying sailing and waterskiing, along with beautiful sunsets and amazing meals.

Dr. Finnerty touched many lives and left a lasting impression on his patients and colleagues. His family all have repeatedly experienced the joy of being asked "are you related to Dr. Finnerty" and hearing a story of that person's experience with him.

Dr. Finnerty is pre-deceased by his son, Edward, grandson James "JJ" Finnerty, granddaughter Hannah Finnerty, cousin Reverend Peter Finnerty, brothers-in-law Jack (Joan) and Edward (Mary) Cullen.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Patricia M. (Cullen) Finnerty and his children Sheila A. Emminger (Larry) Rensselaer NY, James P. Finnerty Watertown, NY, Anthony M. Finnerty Troy, NY, Paul F. Finnerty (Mary Beth) Clifton Park, NY, Mary R. Finnerty Suffield, CT, Emmet C. Finnerty (Karen) Wynantskill, NY, cousin Dr. Thomas Finnerty (Marie) Elmira, NY, grandchildren Matthew Emminger (Deanna Reiss), John Emminger (Katie), Jim Emminger; Molly, Meghan, Ryan, Connor, Eamon, Maggie and Anna Finnerty, and great-granddaughter Charlotte Emminger, along with many devoted nieces and nephews.

The family would like to express profound appreciation to the staff and nurses at The Terrace at Beverwyck, St. Peter's Hospital, Albany Medical Center, and Community Hospice of Albany for the excellent care they have provided over the past several years.

Funeral services will be held at St. Patrick's Church, South Massey St, Watertown NY on Saturday, March 5th at 11:00 AM. Interment will be at Glenwood Cemetery, Brookside Drive (County Route 67), Watertown, NY. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with the family on Saturday, March 5th from 9:30 to 10:30 AM at Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown prior to the funeral services.

The family encourages donations in Dr. Finnerty's honor to CREDO Community Center Foundation, 595 West Main St., Watertown, NY 13601 or online through credocc.com. Online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com.


#37 Joseph Stenard 2022-03-31 06:44
The Finnerty's are a wonderful family - devoted to Our Blessed Mother and helping people from all walks of life in need. So grateful for them making Watertown their home. Many good times our families spent together!
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#36 William Herbert 2022-03-08 12:32
Pat and Family, When I followed Paul Underwood as ob/gyn chair at UVA in 2000, Jim was already on the UVA faculty — providing great care to patients, excellent teaching to residents and med students, and simply being a wonderful human being. His compassion for people influenced all of us. Thankfully, that continued for years. When you two returned to New York, our ob/gyn conference room in our clinics was named for Jim — he was certainly deserving! During your sadness about losing him, I hope many such memories will be important for all of us. Sincerely, Bill
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#35 Rosemary Gavin 2022-03-08 10:13
Many thoughts and prayers are being said for the family of Dr. Finnerty. I had the pleasure of meeting him only briefly with his wife, when they came to the church to have their picture taken for the directory. We had a wonderful conversation about Watertown and the few years we lived there. His gentleness was so endearing. May his sweet servant soul rest in well-earned heavenly reward.
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#34 Tim McIntosh 2022-03-06 19:38
Dear Finnerty family - we are sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Finnerty. As long time cottage neighbors we will miss him, and know what an inspiration he was to all of you. Our condolences to all.

The McIntosh's
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#33 Susan Streets 2022-03-05 20:56
My mom's favorite doctor of all time. He was so kind to bis patients. My brother was a pree9mie and he saved his life. God bless and my heart goes out to the whole fa.ily. Please take care.
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#32 Rev. Geoffrey Burke 2022-03-05 10:35
Dear Patricia and Family, I am sending our prayers and sympathy from Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Latham, NY. I share your sorrow and loss. Jim was a wonderful man, a great physician and a true Catholic gentleman in every sense of the title. We will remember him at our Masses this weekend. Blessings to all, Fr. Burke, pastor.
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#31 Paul Dowling, MD 2022-03-03 17:29
I was very sorry to hear of Dr. Finnerty's passing. I remember first meeting him in high school as a friend of Sheila and was impressed by his calm, welcoming manner and warm personality. I will always be grateful to his advice and counsel as I pursued my own medical career. Even with his loss, this is a time to celebrate his amazing life. He touched many lives as a family man, physician, and educator and for this we can all be grateful. My prayers and condolences to all the Finnerty family.
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#30 Bob & Joan Hawthorne 2022-03-03 17:02
I worked with Dr. Finnerty several years. He was a very competent, caring, and capable practitioner. He was also one of the finest gentleman that I ever worked with. Our condolences to Pat and the entire family.
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#29 Nora Doyle MD 2022-03-03 15:53
Our heartfelt condolences to the Finnerty family from all the Doyles. Your dad was such an honorable role model for us all. Prayers for you during this difficult time.
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#28 Paul Dierdorf 2022-03-03 14:09
To Pat Finnerty: We would like to express our condolences on Jim's recent death. He was a special man who touched many lives and will long be remembered.
Paul and Nancy Dierdorf
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