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IvanIvan Francis Finley, a plain-spoken mayor who pushed the Sedona City Council to exercise greater control over timeshare development, died Monday, Jan. 8, at his home in Sedona. He was 81.
By Greg Ruland
Larson Newspapers
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Ivan Francis Finley, a plain-spoken mayor who pushed the Sedona City Council to exercise greater control over timeshare development, died Monday, Jan. 8, at his home in Sedona. He was 81.

Elected to the City Council when Vice Mayor Annamarie Hayes was recalled in 1992, Finley won his first election with 53 percent of the vote.

Voters responded to Finley’s call for a comprehensive economic development plan that anticipated new growth.

Finley served out the remainder of Hayes’ term and was re-elected to the council in 1994. He served as mayor of Sedona from 1996 to 1998.

“He truly loved Sedona,” former Sedona Mayor Alan Everett said.

Always “courageous,” Finley was unafraid to take controversial stands when he believed he was right, Everett said.

Finley supported rebuilding an alternate route at Red Rock Crossing, a proposal that divided the community at the time and continues to be a topic of hot debate.

Everett, who followed Finley as Sedona mayor, said the council accomplished many goals during Finley’s tenure including:

 * The creation of a zoning designation for “lodging,” which allowed the City Council to exercise better control over the expansion of timeshares and hotel rooms in Sedona.

 * The consolidation of City Hall in its present location at 102 Roadrunner Drive and the move of city staff into new offices.

  * The establishment of regular salaries for council members, who originally served as volunteers at significant personal cost.

According to Sedona Community Services Director Marie Brown, one of Finley’s final official acts as mayor was to bid $700,000 at public auction to buy the last eight acres needed to complete Posse Grounds Park.

Friends and colleagues remembered Finley as a man with definite ideas who expressed them directly.

“He said what he thought,” Brown recalled. “He was very, very honest — a lot of integrity.”

Brown, who served as Sedona city clerk during the years that Finley worked on the council, said some residents considered the former mayor a bit of a curmudgeon.

“If he had something to say, he said it,” Brown said. “I liked that.”

“He walked the talk,” Bashas’ President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Proulx said. “He was an effective leader who knew how to get things done.”

Proulx, who was promoted to manager of the grocery chain’s operations in Northern Arizona during Finley’s years on the council, considered the former mayor a close friend and mentor.

They met at the Sedona

Mid-Day Rotary Club where Finley was a charter member and president.

“The Rotary Club was not just a fork-and-knife lunch club,” Proulx said. “We did things in the community.”

Proulx credited Finley’s leadership with helping to establish the ball fields at Posse Grounds Park. The club worked to sod the fields and helped build the snack shack there, he said.

During annual turkey hunts each spring, Proulx said he came to know Finley as a person who was fascinated with nature.

“He was full of energy — always curious to look at nature in amazement,” Proulx said.

An avid hunter, fisherman and all-around outdoorsman, Finley pushed Sedona to buy more land for parks and open space.

Conversations around the campfire covered every topic, including personal, financial and family issues, Proulx said.

“In my personal life, I learned a tremendous amount from him,” Proulx said. “He was very opinionated. He believed that if you didn’t stand for something, you would fall for anything.”

A devout family man, Finley looked to his wife, Thelma, for support and guidance during their 62 years of marriage, Proulx said.

The couple married in 1945 when Finley was still in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

“Thelma was like his right hand. They balanced each other,” Proulx said.

Born in Curtis, Neb., Finley spent most of his youth in Oregon.

During his professional life, Finley managed several J.C. Penney stores in California, then moved to Sedona in 1978 to manage the Sunset Mobile Home Park.

Finley also worked for many years as a managing broker at Foothills Real Estate.

He retired in 2000.

In addition to his activities with the Mid-Day Rotary Club and Rotary Club of the Red Rocks, Finley was a member of the Sedona Verde Valley Association of Realtors, the Sedona Men’s Republican Club and Citizens for an Alternate Route.

Finley is survived by his wife, two daughters, Elizabeth Ernst and Victoria Williams, a son, Teri, six grandchildren, two stepgrandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Services are pending. For information, contact Greer’s Mortuary at 282-3253.


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