Kimberly Finley Profile Photo
1950 Kimberly 2023

Kimberly Finley

May 9, 1950 — November 29, 2023

Many knew her as Ms. Head or Mrs. Finley from her many years as a teacher in Troy's public schools, at McCormick and Sylvanite, and at Evergreen in Moyie Springs, ID.  She was a gardener of community and teacher of all, nearly every chapter of her life.  In her last years Kimberly was honored and tickled to see and feel her legacy of love alive in all of us around her.  Her decline and death were fast and brief, and she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  She has now given this legacy to us, to her communities, to keep alive as we move forth. 

Kimberly grew up at the base of Mount Jumbo, along the banks of Rattlesnake Creek in Missoula, MT, with her sister Jeannine and parents Beatrice and Ira Head.  Gammie and Gampie (Irene and Dan MacFarlane) lived just up the street.  Kimberly and Jeannine, along with their pack of fellow Rattlesnake kids roamed the neighborhood, bouncing between the homes of their parents and grandparents, playing games and getting into just the right amount of trouble.

She grew into an actress with the Montana Repertory Theater, park ranger in Wyoming, Seattleite in the mid 70s.  She landed and made her home in the blossoming communities tucked within the deep forests, and steep valleys of Northwest Montana.  She was a lover of books, the connective power of storytelling and music, and liberating the mind through curiosity and learning, and it was here in Lincoln County that she found her calling as a teacher.   Piling all the school children of her valley in the Yaak into her Pontiac in the winters of the early 80’s, they would trundle down the muddy, snowy road to one-room Sylvanite School, surely singing songs and playing rhyming games.

It was here in Troy that she met her beloved dancing partner George.  Soon enough the pair moved to town as their daughters Laura Irene and Madeline-Rose came along, and the dancing and singing multiplied.  Kimberly lived in her community as she did her gardens, watering and tending wherever she went with smiles, an open heart, and a graceful skip in her step.  She lived her values through her many roles in the public schools, Lincoln County Public Libraries, Northwest Music Hot Club and Coffee House, and the Troy Fine Arts Council, to name a few.  Her spirit was not without its troubles, as her big, sensitive heart held within it all life’s joy as well as its woe.  

After George died in 2003, she and her daughters soon moved their home base to Iowa City, Iowa to heal with some distance and a change of scene.  There, she became a part of a community of friends, worked in a Montessori school, a friend’s consignment store, graded essays for nation-wide standardized testing companies, and grew a bountiful midwest vegetable garden.  Bravely, steadily, she navigated the new world of single-motherhood, cheering on her daughters in all their endeavors.  

Upon returning to Troy in 2012, she took up where she left off.  She continued her work in the Troy Public Library as the head librarian and seasonally would appear in Kalispell as a jingling Halloween sprite in her dear friends’ Halloween store.  She traveled; journeying to visit friends and her at times far-away daughters, family in Billings, to garlic and music and arts festivals in the mountain west.  She sat in sunbeams and ventured vicariously to the ends of the earth through her extensive book collection.  She tended the beloved birds at her forest’s-edge feeders, gardened, and read stories to Troy’s children of all ages at fairs and after-school programs.  She reveled in cribbage games and hot saunas with her wonderful friends, never passed up dancing to a good tune, and decided that if there was a ‘next life’, she’d be an archaeologist.

This November she was worn down, fighting a cold for a number of weeks.  The cold blossomed into pneumonia and her lungs filled with fluid.  We now suspect that she had navigated much of her life with an undiagnosed auto-immune condition, which, triggered by the pneumonia, caused her body to turn on itself.  And on Wednesday, November 29, the same day her mama died in 1994, Kimberly left us to go dancing with her beloved George.  She was surrounded by her daughters and their partners, her sister Jeannine Walter, and beloved life-long friends.  She was as courageous, and full of song and beauty in death as she was in life.

A Bon Voyage Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 8th, 2024 in Troy, MT at the Osprey Pavilion.  Details, updates, and more at: 

Flowers, cards, stories, memories, food, and hugs are all welcome, as are donations in the form of a check mailed to Missoula Children's Theater, written as MCT, 200 N. Adams St, Missoula, MT, 59802 or Lincoln County Public Libraries Foundation, 220 W. 6th St, Libby, MT, 59923. 

For all of those that have kindly been offered already, we extend our gratitude.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kimberly Finley, please visit our flower store.


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