Very few people have had the kind of impact on their community that Ken Finnerty had. Perhaps only the father and son combination of Charles and G. Howard Ferguson can be said to have served their friends and neighbours over such a long period of time. With Ken’s death on January 14, it is no cliché to say that an era came to an end.
The Finnerty family played a prominent role in the political and economic life of this community for more than sixty years. Ken’s father, William Harold Finnerty, was an auctioneer, beginning in the business in the early 1940’s. What is now the Clothier Inn in Kemptville was for a long time known as the Finnerty Block, and was the centre of W.H. Finnerty’s business activity.But, years after his father had sold the auctioneering business, Ken was encouraged to run one or two small-scale auctions in Kemptville, and everything grew from there. It was obviously in the blood of the Finnerty’s. But not everyone is as successful in that business as Ken and wife Dianna were. Working together over these decades, they took care to always maintain a strong work ethic, and equally firm ethical standards in their dealings with the public.
But, aside from the family business, Ken served in the political sphere also, for a combined twenty-two years, both on the Kemptville Town Council, and later that of North Grenville. He was Reeve of Kemptville and Deputy Mayor of North Grenville. In 1995, he was Warden of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.
As with his business, Ken carried on a tradition of service that started with his father, W. H. Finnerty, who was Reeve of Kemptville for seven years, and Warden of the United Counties in 1954. That’s quite a record of service for one family. Finnerty senior was largely responsible for providing Kemptville with its water system for every home, replacing the old pumps. Ken was there when the pipes were laid, and for decades afterwards was the man to go to when municipal workers needed to find those pipes for repairs. He was often the only one who knew where they were!
Ken’s deep and lasting legacy to this community is known to many of his friends and neighbours, and Mayor Peckford pays tribute to it elsewhere in this issue. His friends knew him as a good and honest man, fun to be with, serious about his work and his political life. The Kemptville Snowmobile Klub was one of the community groups grateful to Ken for his interest and support.
People often wondered why Ken stayed involved on Council for so many years: the answer may simply be that it was part of his makeup, a duty he saw and lived for his community. A record of service that will live as the legacy of a man, of whom, as the saying goes, we shall not see his like again.