John Finlayson Tribute

Read at the plaque dedication during the Homecoming Exec Board meeting held 10/16/21

The Alumni Corp. marks the loss of one of the most important alumni in Zeta Chapter’s history. John L. Finlayson ’64 passed away on August 3 of this year.

For those of you who aren’t aware of who John is and what he did for the chapter, he served for many years as treasurer of the Alumni Corp., but in reality, he was a one-man Alumni Corp. He was instrumental in restarting the chapter in the early 1980s when it was under suspension from National. This was shortly before the period in the later 1980s when the College derecognized all of the fraternities, and the Greek system operated underground anyway.

He continued to support the chapter through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, using his own financial resources and those of his company to ensure that bills got paid and needed repairs were made.

Older alumni will remember the days before cell phones and the Internet, when all of the chapter members traveled to an office his employer owned in York to conduct the annual Phoneathon fundraiser. It wasn’t his office; it was an office of the company he worked for, and he probably didn’t have permission for us to be there. He trusted a bunch of frat bros not to make a big mess of his colleagues’ workspaces.

John also asked his secretary, Sandy, to print all of the chapter’s correspondence and keep track of donations. This was not part of her official job, and no doubt he compensated her for all the many hours she devoted to Zeta Chapter over the course of at least three decades.

When necessary John used his influence with the College and with National to rescue the chapter from sanctions when necessary. In addition, he put very significant sums of his own money into the chapter house over the years. He never sought recognition for any of these contributions, but I feel it is important to mention them now, so that our current and future alumni can have idea of the extent of his dedication and generosity.

In addition to being one of our most important alumni, John was a very kind person and generous at a personal level. Whenever he was in town to check in on the house or smooth over some trouble the chapter had got itself into with the College, or try to explain how he had saved the chapter’s collective asses yet again, you could count on him to take whomever happened to be in the house out to dinner. John enjoyed eating well and frequenting nice restaurants, so as college students, many of us had the best meals of our college years paid for by John Finlayson.

John really is the main reason this house and fraternity still stands today, and we’ve dedicated this plaque to his memory to remind future generations of his contributions. I ask the undergrads who are present here to incorporate John’s name into the history of the house that is passed on to new members as part of the new member education program.