Catherine L. Finnblade, 41, cellist and office manager

July 20, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Catherine L. Finnblade, a cellist who performed with several small orchestras and was office manager for a Cockeysville computer company, died Wednesday of cancer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She was 41 and lived in Timonium.

Her family can hardly remember a time when she wasn't singing or playing her cello and guitar. Most recently, she had played cello with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra of Virginia. Her last performance was in April, after she was diagnosed with cancer.

"We're from a musical family, and Katie started playing the cello when she was 8," said a brother, William A. Lyle of Oakton, Va. "We started a family singing group -- the Lyle Children -- with Katie accompanying on guitar, and we sang before church groups and in nursing homes in Schenectady, N.Y., where we grew up."

Influenced by folk singers Joan Collins, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Bob Dylan, during the 1960s, Mrs. Finnblade organized a folk group she named the Sundowners in Roanoke, where the family had moved.

"In addition to playing, she also wrote all of our arrangements," said the brother.

She graduated from high school in 1972, then continued her education at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., where she earned her bachelor's degree in music education in 1976.

LTC Unable to find a job in her field, Mrs. Finnblade worked as a substitute teacher and librarian before going to work in the late 1970s at Radix II Inc., a computer firm in Temple Hills, as a programmer and instructor.

For the past 10 years, she was office manager at Eagle Sales Corp., the Cockeysville-based manufacturers' representative of computer components.

But music remained Mrs. Finnblade's first love, and in addition to performing with the Roanoke orchestra, she played with the Lynchburg (Va.) Symphony Orchestra and had appeared with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

She was a member for a number of years of the Scottish Folk Orchestra in Baltimore until the group disbanded about a year ago.

"The idea there was for folk and classical musicians to have a venue to meet and play together," said the the group's founder, Gary Backhaus of Mount Washington. The 13-member group performed Scottish dance and folk songs and performed at weddings, concerts and the Scottish Games held in Southern Maryland annually.

"She was so dedicated to her music that when you watched her play it was sheer ecstasy because she got such joy out of playing," said Cathy Stewart, a longtime friend who lives in Kilmarnock, Va.

Mrs. Stewart, who liked playing guitar duets with Mrs. Finnblade, was endlessly amazed by her sense of perfect pitch.

"She never needed any music," Mrs. Stewart said. "She could pick up a tune right away, or if someone's string popped, she'd say, 'Oops -- there goes your A-string.' She was really something."

She was born Catherine Lyle in Tacoma, Wash., and later moved with her family to Schenectady and Roanoke.

She and Richard C. Finnblade, a retired NASA supervisor, married in 1984. He died in 1994.

Services will be held at 3: 30 p.m. today at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

In addition to her brother, she is survived by her parents, Aaron K. Lyle III and Isabel T. Lyle of Roanoke; another brother, Philip T. Lyle of Woodbridge, Va.; two nephews; and three nieces.

Pub Date: 7/20/96

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