Timothy J. Finnerty

Timothy  J.  Finnerty
World Trade Center

Basketball and Hijinks

On Sept. 8, Timothy J. Finnerty's cousin was getting married. Some family was up from Atlanta. He was tired. It had been a long week. But he knew a cousin's daughter had never seen Manhattan. So at 8:30 p.m., he and his wife, Theresa Finnerty, did a tour of the entire city with her.

"He wanted her to be able to go back to her friends and say she saw it," Ms. Finnerty said. "We walked around the World Trade Center, and he even tried to get us into the office; at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor. But the office was locked."

A bond trader -- and impromptu tour guide -- Mr. Finney had one great obsession: "He lived and breathed basketball," Ms. Finnerty said. He was a guard at the University of Scranton in the late 1980's, and played in the N.C.A.A. championships, Division III.

Mr. Finnerty, who was 33, loved to coach, too. At Wagner College in Staten Island, he was an assistant coach.

"When we moved to Glen Rock, N.J., he wanted to coach seventh and eighth graders," Ms. Finnerty said. Last year, he got the chance. "St. Catherine's, my church, had a team. And those kids loved him," she said.

"He was just silly and goofy. If a kid was quiet, within minutes he would have the kid laughing," Ms. Finnerty said. At the wedding of his cousin, on Sept. 8, he did goofy dances -- the lawn mower dance and the sprinkler dance.

"I don't know where they came from," Ms. Finnerty said. "But I was laughing so hard I had tears coming down my face."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 5, 2001.

Timothy Finnerty, master of jump shots, helped anyone in need

Anyone who has ever played pick-up basketball knows players like Timothy Finnerty.

Mr. Finnerty was that guy with the sweetest of jump shots who never seemed to miss from 20 feet.

To opponents, he was the guy who made defenders pay the price for leaving him alone with the ball and a view of the basket. For his teammates, though, he could bail out anyone who had dribbled into a corner.

Those who knew Mr. Finnerty best say that is the way he was on and off the court -- always looking to help anyone who needed it.

"There was a group of 10 or 12 of us who grew up together playing sports in Rutherford," recalled Jack Sullivan, one of Mr. Finnerty's longtime friends. "He'd do anything for us, or anyone he met, for that matter. Tim never had a problem getting along with anybody."

Mr. Finnerty, a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, was working at One World Trade Center when a hijacked jet crashed into the building Sept. 11. Immediately after the crash, Mr. Finnerty called his father to let him know he was OK. He has not been heard from since.

Mr. Finnerty was 33 and lived in Glen Rock with his wife, Theresa.

After a youth filled with success on the basketball court capped off by a spot on the University of Scranton basketball team, Mr. Finnerty became a coach in his spare time, first as an assistant at Wagner University from 1991 to 1994, and more recently at the St. Catherine Roman Catholic Church in Glen Rock, where he coached the seventh- and eighth-grade boys team.

Unlike most of the coaches, Mr. Finnerty did not have a son who played on the team. Theresa Finnerty, Mr. Finnerty's college sweetheart and wife for the past two years, said her husband coached the team because he enjoyed being around the children.

"He loved basketball and he loved kids," she said. "He was so good at teaching and relating to them on their level."

Aside from his exploits on the basketball court, Mr. Finnerty also will be remembered as the guest who would never let a wedding party die down. Just when the action on the dance floor began to slow, Mr. Finnerty would grab a chair and a microphone and perform one of his unforgettable, arm- flailing dances to a '70s hit, such as the Village People's "YMCA."

"He wasn't John Travolta, but there'd be a circle and one person in the middle of it and it would be him," Sullivan said. "He was the life of the party."

In addition to his wife and father, Peter of Rutherford, Mr. Finnerty is survived by a brother, Kevin of Seattle, and his grandmother, Alice Bannon of Marietta, Ga.

Profile by Matthew Futterman published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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