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Texarkana College honors late Dr. Shirley Finn

by Andrew Bell | November 16, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Edwin and Michael Finn, left and right, observe the Dr. Shirley Finn, RN, mural at Texarkana College. (Photo courtesy of Suzy Irwin/TC)

TEXARKANA, Texas -- Texarkana College honored the memory and legacy of the late Dr. Shirley Finn, RN, former nursing faculty member, director and division chair of TC's Health Occupations Division, during a campus ceremony attended by close friends and Finn family members on Oct. 13.

TC dedicated the nursing skills lab located in the Patterson Health Sciences Building to the memory and legacy of Finn. President Dr. Jason Smith said the lab serves as the primary learning environment where nursing students learn and practice life-saving skills.

"We felt like this lab represents the heart of our program, a fitting dedication to Dr. Finn's legacy," Smith said.

In addition, the college installed a mural depicting her lifetime accomplishments located outside the entrance to the lab. TC announced the advancement of the endowed Dr. Shirley Finn, RN, memorial scholarship through the TC Foundation, which will serve as TC's most prestigious nursing scholarship for vocational or associate degree nursing students.

An honor cord will be awarded to recipients of the scholarship upon graduation.

A memorial tree was also planted on the west side of the Health Sciences building as a symbol of her service to the college and her legacy as TC's 2002 Distinguished Faculty Honoree.

Many friends, family members, former colleagues and witnesses to Finn's historic career and life spoke during the ceremony.

One of these speakers was Dr. Denzer Burke, who spoke as a friend of the Finn family. Burke highlighted the hope Finn provided to those who needed it most during turbulent times in the community.

"When Dr. Finn came to Texarkana, she found a fairly peaceful community," Burke said. "However, this facade was shaken when this black, registered nurse was employed at Wadley Hospital, Texarkana Independent School District and especially at the Miller County Health Unit. There she encountered subtle and, often overt, discrimination. This prompted Dr. Finn, as she encountered these occasions, to become a quiet, soft-spoken agent of change in our community -- because it was important to her that she was able to care for the healthcare needs of all patients who needed her services.

"Dr. Shirley Finn's life mattered, and we are all better for her having lived among us."

Michael Finn, son of Shirley and Edwin, thanked the college and a slew of people during his soliloquy. He read a message from his father, who was present but watching the tribute from a separate room, about how much he appreciated those who made this moment come to fruition.

Michael said his mother was a lot of different things for a lot of different people, but most of all, she was a beautiful person inside and out.

"My family and I want to thank you all for allowing us to finally bring mom home," he said. "She worked her whole life. She loved this place, she loved this city and she loves this family. And now, finally, she's home."

As part of the ceremony, Texarkana, Texas, Mayor Bob Bruggeman proclaimed the day as Dr. Shirley Finn, RN, Day in Texarkana.

In 2002, Dr. Shirley Finn was honored as the Distinguished Faculty Honoree with the planting of a tree. As a tribute to Dr. Finn, a new tree was planted at the new home of the TC Health Sciences division. Dr. Finn’s tree can be found on the west side of the Health Sciences and Media Center buildings. (Photo courtesy of Suzy Irwin/TC)
In 2002, Dr. Shirley Finn was honored as the Distinguished Faculty Honoree with the planting of a tree. As a tribute to Dr. Finn, a new tree was planted at the new home of the TC Health Sciences division. Dr. Finn’s tree can be found on the west side of the Health Sciences and Media Center buildings. (Photo courtesy of Suzy Irwin/TC)
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