Cover photo for Jesse Franklin Finch's Obituary
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1932 Jesse 2024

Jesse Franklin Finch

October 17, 1932 — March 31, 2024



Jesse Finch, departed this life at the age of 91 on March 31, 2024, in Athens at Manor Lake Assisted Living, after a life rich with experiences and achievements. Born in Glennville, Jesse spent his early years moving through various towns in Southeast Georgia. His family settled back in Glennville when he was eight years old, in 1940.


Jesse, unlike his brother Oliver, was more inclined towards sports than academics. From a young age, he embraced any opportunity to play sports, whether with friends or alone. By the time he reached Glennville High in 1944, at the age of 12, he had become a versatile athlete, participating in football, basketball, track and field, and tennis—since the school lacked a baseball team. His high school years were marked by remarkable team successes, including a state final in basketball during his senior year and a semi-final in football as a junior. Alongside Pat Stanfield, Jesse also competed in doubles tennis, reaching the state semi-finals in their final year.


Jesse's athletic prowess earned him numerous individual accolades, including All-State honors in football and basketball during his junior and senior years, as well as state championships in pole vault and long jump. His talent was further recognized when he was named MVP at the north vs. south all-star football game.


Post-high school, Jesse secured a football scholarship at the University of Georgia (UGA), with plans also to play baseball. Initially attending GMC, a prep school, for his freshman year, he enrolled at UGA the following year, 1949. However, Jesse left UGA after his freshman year to join the Air Force, where his commitment to sports continued, especially during his stationing in Japan. His athletic skill led to his selection for the U.S. Baseball team during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where he played as a center fielder and lead-off hitter. Jesse played for Bobby Bowden at South Georgia College and he made it a point to attend the Bobby Bowden reunion every year. He was the first athlete to be inducted in to the South Georgia Hall of Fame. 


After his military service, Jesse returned to Georgia to complete his education, earning a degree in Education from UGA in 1960. He then embarked on a career in teaching and coaching, initially in Harlem, GA, and later at Camden Co High School in St Mary's, GA, where he and his wife, Karen Wells Haywood, moved after marrying in 1963. The couple had three children: Jeanne, Jeff, and Melissa, while Jesse pursued his passion for coaching in Gwinnett County schools until 1975, later becoming the Director of Lawrenceville Parks and Recreation until his retirement in 1993. Each year, The Jesse Finch Scholarship is awarded to one male and female outstanding athlete at Tattnall County High School. 


Years later, Jesse rekindled a romance with his high school sweetheart, Gloria Kicklighter Coleman marrying her in 1997. The couple spent their later years in Glennville, surrounded by friends, family, and shared passions for travel and sports. Their travels across the state to visit family members are fondly remembered by those who knew them, marking a joyous chapter in their lives together, lasting 27 years until Gloria’s passing.


Jesse's life story is a testament to the joy of pursuing one's passions, the importance of community and family, and the enduring power of love.


He is preceded in death by his parents, Brooks and Rubye Clark Finch; brother, Oliver Finch.


He is survived by his children, Jeanne (John) Reno of Atlanta, Jeff (Michelle) Finch of Athens and Melissa Finch of Watkinsville; stepchildren, Ron (Ozella) Coleman of Bluff Dale, TX; Connie C. Ellsworth of Jacksonville, FL; and Cathy C. (Leroy) Moorehead of Watkinsville, GA; grandchildren,  Frank Finch, Phoebee Finch, Wells Finch, Ava Geer, and Mercer Geer; step grandchildren, Jason (Sterrett) Coleman, Ryan Coleman (Kelly Kacprowski-Coleman); Brian Ellsworth, Michelle Belmont, Rachel Moorehead (Christian Cummings).



Family will receive friends beginning at 12:00pm on Saturday, April 6, 2024 with funeral services to follow at 1:00pm from the Chapel of Glennville Funeral Home with Dr. Rick Cason officiating. Interment will be in the Glennville City Cemetery

Pallbearers will be Jeff Finch, Frank Finch, Phoebee Finch, Wells Finch, Brant Kicklighter, Ava Geer and Mercer Geer.

Glennville Funeral Home has the honor to serve the Family of Mr. Jesse Finch.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jesse Franklin Finch, please visit our flower store.


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