Finnegan, John Robert Sr. ("Jack") Age 87, of St. Paul. Passed away October 2, 2012 at home with support and love of family and friends, and the attentive care of HealthPartners Hospice staff. Born in Walker, MN in 1924, he discovered journalism as his lifelong calling while in grade school. His professional career began after graduating Minneapolis Central High in 1943 but was interrupted by World War II in which he served in the Army 311th Regiment of the 78th Division. Before the war, he met the love-of- his-life, Norma Corinne Tomte of Minneapolis. They delayed marriage until 1948 by which time Jack completed a BA in journalism and political science at the UMN School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The same year, he and Norma married and moved to Rochester, MN where he worked at the Post-Bulletin as a reporter and Norma at the Mayo Clinic as a medical secretary. In 1951, he started as a night-side general assignment reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He and Norma moved to Richfield and then St Paul in 1961, after his appointment as Associate Editor of Pioneer Press editorial page. In 1967, he was named Executive Editor, retiring in 1989 as Senior Vice President and Assistant Publisher. Under Jack's leadership, the St Paul newspapers won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first in their history. He was deeply committed to First Amendment values, and the public's right-to-know through open government and freedom of information. In 1957, he and a colleague helped draft the first Minnesota open-meetings law, limiting public officials' conduct of business behind closed doors. He co-wrote and helped lobby passage of the state's Data Practices Act in 1974. He also pursued these issues nationally, garnering a trunkful of awards for his advocacy. He was a committed member of the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA), the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, the Coalition to Support and Expand the Freedom of Information Act, and the National Freedom of Information Coalition which named him in 2011 to its State Open Government Hall of Fame. He was also strongly committed to the education of future journalists in his post-retirement teaching at the University of Minnesota, where he also completed a master's agree in 1965. Jack Finnegan is survived by his wife, Norma to whom he was married 64 years; his children, John Jr. (Janice); Bobbi Deeney (Michael); James (Pam Randall); Mary Maruska (Greg); and Cara Ann (John Murphy). His son Joseph (LuAnn) preceded him in death. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren: and one great-grandchild. Visitation is Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at Willwerscheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave, St. Paul. Visitation will also occur Friday from 10-11 a.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 1093 Summit Av. with the Mass of Christian Burial following at 11 a.m. Interment will be private at a later date. Memorials are preferred to the Joe Finnegan Memorial Scholarship Fund, supporting students at Cretin-Derham Hall, Visitation, and St. Thomas Academy who have lost a parent. Memorials may also be directed to the University of Minnesota School of Journalism Scholarship Fund through the University of Minnesota Foundation. Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service 651-228-1006
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Published in Star Tribune from Oct. 3 to Oct. 4, 2012