Robert Damian Finnegan
1940 - 2021
Robert Damian Finnegan, 80, passed away peacefully on July 7, 2021. He will be remembered for his generous spirit, sharp intellect, keen powers of observation, and deep knowledge of the potentially contradictory areas of science and religion.
Born December 3, 1940, in New York City, Robert was raised in Cranford, NJ by his parents Dr. William R. Finnegan and Ruth Newhouse Finnegan as the oldest of seven siblings, beloved by his mother as her "right hand man." While attending St. Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark, Robert enjoyed his studies of art, biology, algebra, and religion as well as his four years on the track team. His journey in his faith began in earnest after graduating high school while on a weeklong retreat at a Trappist monastery. At that point he thought he found his calling, becoming a Trappist brother as he worked and prayed in the community for over a year. While he looked back fondly on these days, he recalled that the vow of silence did not allow him to "reach out to others and help them lovingly." Leaving the monastery proved to be a turning point toward building a loving family and a lifelong career as a physicist.
After graduating with degrees in physics and mathematics from Saint Peter's College in Jersey City, Robert taught for two years at Regis High School in Manhattan while studying physics at New York University, graduating with a master's degree. He met the love of his life, Rosemary, at a Catholic Youth Organization meeting in 1963, and they married in 1965. Robert was a loving father to daughter, Rosemary, and son, Robert, with whom he shared thoroughly unappreciated explanations of the finer points of algebra, calculus, and quantum theory. In 1966, Robert began his career as a civilian physicist for the U.S. Department of Army. Along with his colleagues, he authored many academic papers and holds more than a dozen patents.
While a consummate scientist, religion remained central to Robert's daily life. He enjoyed attending mass at St. Jerome's in West Long Branch and was a member of the local Knights of Columbus. He filled his copious notebooks equally with thoughts about chemistry and Jesus. A voracious reader, Robert could be found studying a wide variety of books from the Bible to T.S. Eliot's poetry, leaving gems of his thinking in the margins. In his retirement, Robert explored the world as Rosemary's willing travel partner. With friends and family, he was always ready to share a good laugh-known for his ability to unexpectedly supply a perfect punchline.
A man who refrained from judgment and preferred to listen more than speak, Robert exemplified the definition of compassion by seeking to understand and alleviate the suffering (great or small) of those around him. Whether he was volunteering for his church or spending time with neighbors, Robert generously focused on others. No stranger to his own suffering with ailments both mental and physical, he consistently expressed gratitude for all the health professionals who helped him. Even as movement and energy declined, he remained optimistic, insightful, and wise through his 80 years.
Robert is survived by his wife Rosemary; children Rosemary and Robert (Jennifer Geoghan); grandchildren Emily Tritto (Joseph), Amanda Romano (Joshua), Fiona Finnegan, and Eleanor Finnegan; great-grandchildren Joseph Tritto and Bellasera Romano. Robert is also survived by siblings Ruth Albanese, Therese Bocchino (Peter), Michael Finnegan, Peter Finnegan (Sabina), and Clare Chirico (Peter).
A memorial mass will be held at St Jerome's Church at 10am on July 24th. Donations in his memory may be sent to St. Benedict's Preparatory School (
Published by Asbury Park Press on Jul. 15, 2021.
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Memorial Mass
St Jerome's Church
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12 Entries
July 29, 2021
Always in my thoughts and missing in my heart. Sail on Big Brother. The course is smooth and the journey is endless. I will see you at dockside. In the meantime, I will plant a small grove of trees in your honor and joy. Mike
Mike Finnegan
July 23, 2021
David Freund
July 23, 2021
I am so sorry for Bob´s passing. We enjoyed many good times on the Benedict´s track team & We shared a lot of laughs. My sincere sympathy to Rosemary & family as I keep you all in my thoughts & prayers.
Phil Aromando SBP `58
July 20, 2021
I´m so sorry that Bob has passed away. We were together in just about all of our classes during our four years at St. Benedict´s. He was a special fellow. My sincere condolences to Rosemary and family at this difficult time. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Charles Kelley, M.D./SBP´´58
July 19, 2021
Have fond memories of sharing enjoyable conversations with Bob at St. Benedict's Alumni luncheons and at occasional dinners at the Woodbridge Diner accompanied by fellow classmates Walt Marshall and Tom Sowa. Tis no doubt that Bob is Up There celebrating his richly deserved reward.
Ed Casey
July 19, 2021
Friends from NAEP Reporting
July 19, 2021
Rosemary, my deepest sympathy on Bob's passing, a truly remarkable gentleman. Madeline
Madeline Ottino
July 19, 2021
Olivier & Leigh Brigaud
July 16, 2021
Your Friends at Dialight
July 16, 2021
My sympathy to Rosemary and children and family members. We were neighbors 53 years ago when you first moved down to the shore. May he be in your hearts forever. With Love Millie Ricci
Millie Ricci
July 15, 2021
Rosemary, sorry for your loss. Many great memories White Sands and the boys. Glad you got that cruise in. RIP Bob, hi to my Joe for me please.
Phyllis Cieri
July 15, 2021
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