William Tyree (“Ty”) Finch died peacefully on February 20th at the age of 84. He was the son of the late Lucy Bedinger Finch and William Carrington Finch.
Ty had the big heart and cowboy spirit of a Texan, but was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. When he was a toddler, his parents relocated to Georgetown, Texas, and he spent many happy years in this small town, often playing on the campus of Southwestern, the university where his father served as president. Ty attended Davidson College in North Carolina, where he played as a lineman on the football team, and he went on to receive his medical degree from Tulane University. He then enlisted in the Navy, and during that time, he served for a year as a young physician in Vietnam during the war. Following his naval service, he completed his residencies in both general surgery and cardiac surgery at Vanderbilt University, and married his first wife Lois McAndrews in 1973. Together they traveled to Paris, where Ty completed a fellowship training year with a top kidney transplant specialist and learned to speak French with a slight Texas drawl. Returning to the states, he and Lois moved to Springfield, Illinois and started a family. All four of Ty’s children were born in Springfield, where Ty worked as a transplant surgeon and taught in the school of medicine at Southern Illinois University.
In 1984, Ty and his family moved back to Nashville to be closer to family. He went into practice as a vascular-thoracic surgeon at Baptist Hospital, eventually opening a practice with Dr. Pat Meacham and serving as Chief of Surgery. In his years as a surgeon, Ty worked tirelessly to build genuine connections with his patients. He believed in making sure they knew his care for them extended well beyond the operating room. The homemade gifts from his patients that adorned his office were a testament to their deep appreciation for his dedicated care.
Ty retired from medicine in 1998, but that really was just the start of his second career. As a devout lover of all things football, Ty dreamed of becoming a football coach. To pursue this goal, he went back to school to obtain his teaching certificate from Tennessee State University, and he began teaching at Hillsboro High School. He taught high school biology and served on the coaching staff for Hillsboro’s football team. The team went on to win the Tennessee State Championship in 2003, and Ty wore that championship ring with great pride. More importantly, he formed friendships with the Hillsboro coaches and players that would last a lifetime.
Ty always appreciated the beauty and wonder of the natural world. His children and grandchildren were extraordinarily lucky to be included on his amazing adventures, which included hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, summiting Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, and Kings Peak, hiking through the Scottish Highlands, and white water rafting down the Salmon and Snake rivers. Ty even hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro at age 65!
In his retirement, Ty discovered a passion for painting. He was a long-time student and friend of the artist Charles Brindley, and he met his second wife Anita Woodcock Schmid in an adult art class at USN. Anita shared Ty’s interest in art, his passion for travel, his deep love for nature, and a genuine warmth of spirit that makes others feel immediately at ease. Ty and Anita married in 2014 and spent a remarkable decade together traveling, including trips to Italy, France, The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier and Badlands National Parks. Their days were filled with painting, birdwatching, gardening, sporting events, walking at Radnor Lake, and spending time with family and friends.
Ty is survived by his wife Anita Schmid, his brother Richard Finch and wife Janie, and his children and stepchildren, Julia Finch McCaffrey (A.J.), Susan Elizabeth Finch (Nathan Keith), Carolyn Finch Loveless (James), Adam Tyree Finch (Sandie), Katie Schmid (Brian Crow), and Mary Schmid. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Gavin Keith, Callum McCaffrey, Dominic McCaffrey, Desmond Cox, Charlie Loveless, Lois Loveless, Julia Finch, Madeline Crow, Simone Crow, and Mina Keith. His grandchildren knew him as their beloved “Tex.”
Ty was a friend to every person he ever met. When you spoke with him, he had an amazing way of making you feel noticed and valued for your unique gifts. Ty invited others into his life with warm greetings, memorable nicknames, and powerful hugs. He was an exceptional father, a loving husband, and outstanding friend. He will be deeply missed by all that knew and loved him.
Services will be held on March 2nd at 2 pm at West End United Methodist Church (2200 West End Avenue) with visitation beginning at noon. Ty can be honored with donations to West End United Methodist Church for Creation Care or Friends of Radnor Lake.