Dr. Daniel C.W. "D.C." Finney, surgeon

Baltimore surgeon's career spanned nearly four decades

  • Dr. Daniel C.E. Finney
Dr. Daniel C.E. Finney (Baltimore Sun )
November 08, 2012|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Dr. Daniel C.W. "D.C." Finney, a retired Baltimore surgeon and World War II veteran, died Monday of heart failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The Lutherville resident was 88.

Dr. Daniel Clarke Wharton Finney — who was known as "D.C." — was the son of Eben Dickey Finney, an architect, and Margaret Wharton Smith Finney, a homemaker.

He was also a collateral descendant of Johns Hopkins and the namesake of Dr. D.C. Wharton Smith, a Baltimore pediatrician, who were both on his maternal side.

His paternal grandfather was the renowned Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. John Miller Turpin Finney, who was the first president of the American College of Surgeons.

Daniel Clarke Wharton Finney was born in Baltimore and raised on the family farm near Cromwell Bridge Road.

An accomplished athlete, he attended Gilman School, where he was captain of the lacrosse, football and wrestling teams, and had been school president.

"We had been classmates at Gilman, and he was one of my oldest friends," said Dr. William F. Rienhoff III, a retired Baltimore surgeon who now lives in Chestertown.

"He carried on the surgical tradition of his grandfather and uncles, and was a very competent and easygoing surgeon," he said.

After graduating from Gilman in 1943, Dr. Finney enlisted in the Army and served as a machine-gunner with Company H of the 101st Infantry.

He landed on the Normandy coast in September 1944, and for several months drove trucks of the Red Ball Express, which kept troops supplied with ammunition, food and gasoline, before becoming a machine-gunner.

At the Battle of the Bulge, Dr. Finney was promoted to sergeant and decorated with the Bronze Star.

After the war, he entered Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1949. He fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a surgeon when he graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1953.

He completed both an internship and surgical residency at Union Memorial Hospital and maintained a general surgical practice as a partner in Finney, Trimble and Associates on York Road in Lutherville.

Dr. Finney was associated with Johns Hopkins Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and the old Church Home Hospital, but spent most of his professional life at Union Memorial Hospital, said Dr. Rienhoff.

"We practiced together for more than 25 years, and he was a wonderful all-around fellow," said Dr. Rienhoff. "And he was popular with patients, staff and the nurses in the operating room."

He said Dr. Finney adhered to the surgical principles laid down by Dr. William Stewart Halsted, a surgeon who was one of the "Big Four" founders of Hopkins Hospital in 1889.

"We call them the Halsted Principles, which means to be very careful and not in a rush to finish an operation," said Dr. Rienhoff, who described his friend and associate as a "very meticulous surgeon."

"His easy attitude, humor and great empathy made him a favorite of patients and hospital staff," said a daughter, Eleanor Dickey Finney "Edee" Waller of Ruxton.

He retired in 1990.

The longtime Ruxton Road resident had lived at the Brightwood retirement community since 2000, where he was secretary of the Brightwood Club Association board. Earlier, he had been a trustee of Calvert School.

An avid golfer, he was a member of the Elkridge Club, Hole in the Wall Golf Club in Naples, Fla., and the Chester Golf Club in Chester, Nova Scotia, where Dr. Finney's family has spent summers at a family home for more than a century.

He also enjoyed playing bridge.

In 1955, he married Eleanor Jean "E.J" Brown, a former registered nurse who had worked at Union Memorial until her marriage. Mrs. Finney died last year.

Dr. Finney was a member for many years of Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church, 6200 N. Charles St., where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday.

In addition to Ms. Waller, Dr. Finney is survived by three other daughters, Edwina Wharton Smith Finney of Baltimore, Mary Finney Tanneberger of Charlotte, N.C., and Margaret Wharton Finney of San Francisco; a sister, Margaret Finney McPherson of Durham, N.C.; and four grandsons.


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