Kansas said goodbye to its first first gentleman, Spencer W. Finney, on Thursday. He was 89.
The husband of Kansas' first female governor, Joan Finney, he was known to be an incredibly supportive spouse at a time when women weren’t exactly accepted in politics.
The Finneys were trailblazers when they moved into Cedar Crest in 1991. Gov. Finney upset former Gov. John Carlin in the 1990 Democratic primary and then defeated incumbent Gov. Mike Hayden in the general election. Spencer Finney supported his wife as she embarked on making history in the Sunflower State.
"He was easily her best campaign staffer. He drove her everywhere around the state of Kansas," said Larry Tenopir, an attorney who knew the Finneys for many years through political events, told the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Titus Wu.
On behalf of Kansans across the state we say thank you for your service, sir. It takes a special kind of person to be a political spouse, to take a secondary role, to be a support system. To host that many social engagements and to do it with a smile. We don’t know how you did it. We suppose out of love, not only for Gov. Finney, but for Kansas. Thank you for your example.
"I’ve heard various ladies’ organizations would go out for teas and chores and whatever and he just fit into that seamlessly," Tenopir said. "He was just his pleasant, normal, welcoming self, and they all accepted him and spent a lot of time with him."
We may never know fully the sacrifices you had to make as first gentleman, but we can still appreciate them. Thanks for taking the role in stride.
Spencer Finney serves as a great example of what a spouse should be. That will always be a part of his own legacy left for Kansas. So many of us look to our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles for examples of a good marriage. Here we found one in the Finneys.
The Finneys married in 1957 and stayed together for 44 years until Joan’s death in 2001.
Perhaps single up-and-coming politicians should look for a spouse with traits like his. Aspiring political spouses should mold themselves after his example.
The Finneys are survived by three children, Mary Holladay, Sarah "Sally" Finney Timm and Richard Finney, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Our thoughts are with you. Please know how important your parents' trailblazing legacy is to our state.