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Dee Ann Jane Elliott Finlay, resident of Buckingham South in Savannah, GA, died on December 16, 2020. She was born on October 31, 1935 in Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of the late William and Dorothy Elliott. Dee graduated from South Hills High School in 1953 and The Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing in 1956.

Dee devoted her entire career to caring for others, beginning at age 15, when she worked at a hospital as a nurse’s aide caring for newborns and as a lab technician. After graduating from nursing school, she worked as a nurse for a dermatologist and biology lab assistant at Johns Hopkins University. Dee later earned a degree in Sociology from Ohio University and became a well-respected nursing professor at Hocking Technical College in Nelsonville, OH. She worked for over a decade with the State of Ohio Services for the Blind, teaching Braille and life skills to blind clients, and later as an in-home traveling caregiver and life coach for physically disabled adults. Dee was also a long-time volunteer for a domestic violence shelter in Athens, OH.

Dee was married to the late Dr. Roger W. Finlay and had two children, the late Dr. Mark R. Finlay and Sharyn Finlay. They resided in Athens, OH for many years, where they were active members of the community. In 1996, Dee retired and moved to Savannah to help care for her grandsons and enjoy her retirement. She had many talents and hobbies and was a very talented seamstress, making her daughter’s prom dresses and grandchildrens’ Halloween costumes. Among her varied interests were films and music of many genres. She was an avid nature lover and white water rafting enthusiast, and continued rafting eastern and western U.S. rivers throughout her sixties. Dee had a special love for sea animals, especially manatees and whales, and supported many environmental organizations.

Dee is survived by her daughter Sharyn Finlay of CA and daughter-in-law Kelly Applegate of GA, as well as beloved grandchildren Jill Warmke, Alexis Croushore, Justin Croushore, Greyson Finlay, Ellis Finlay, and Rex Milam.

Tributes to Dee may be sent to the American Alzheimer’s Association.

Online Condolences

  1. Jill Warmke says:

    My granny Dee was an amazing woman who taught me many of my favorite skills to this day… she was an artist, crafter, sewist, and truly independent woman who loved deeply and cherished all her grandchildren. I miss our camping trips and hours sewing and crafting in the basement of her Columbus home. She has always been a hero and inspiration to me. May she rest easy now.

  2. Debra Miller says:

    A grand lady has left this world and I am blessed that Dee Ann Finlay was my dear friend. For forty years we laughed, traveled, shared our opinions and our true selves. I admired Dee for her bravery and adventurous spirit. Vicariously, I was able to travel the world in ways I could only dream of. The depth of her love for family, pride in her grandchildren and loyalty to friends was evident in how she conducted her life. Yes Jill, I have fond memories of you camping with us and doing Eco Weekend. I feel like I know her grandchildren from her talking all of you up. Dee’s incredible independence was admirable to me. With that value, it was so difficult for her to succumb to dementia which meant dependence on others. Thankfully, Kelly lovingly looked after her interests to ensure her care was appropriate. I will keep the memories, photos and treasure the influence she had on my life. A cherished experience is when we traveled to Trinidad to bird watch. What a fun trip! A part of my heart goes with you Dee. You will live on in our memories.

  3. Vickie L Evans says:

    I met Dee thru Debra and she became a dear friend of our family. I admired her so much for her brave, adventurous spirit. We camped, went to the beach (she pitched her tent on a porch) She always asked after the children after they grew up and away. Rest In Peace Dee.

  4. Suzanne Holderbaum says:

    I’m glad I got to spend fun times with Dee, who I met thru Debra. She brought joy with her on our trips to the beach or camping. She was always smiling. She loved her grandchildren (I”m glad she brought Jill camping with her.). She lived life to the fullest. And she appreciated a handsome man, no matter the age!
    I last saw her about four years ago while I was traveling to Savannah on a vacation with my husband. I don’t think she remembered me, but she was gracious as we shared some photos. Damn dementia for slowing her down and locking her in. She wasn’t suited for that! Gone but not forgotten.

  5. Kelly Applegate says:

    I had been dating Mark Finlay for about a year and he decided I should meet his parents, so we headed east from Iowa. Dee wanted our first day together to be on a river (of course), so we met up at the New River in WV and jumped in a raft together. I thought Dee was one cool mom, especially when she started talking about Led Zeppelin and the independent films she had recently seen. And I counted myself lucky to have her as my mother-in-law for the 26 years I was married to her amazing son. Dee was the opposite of the “meddling MIL” and even though I only saw her once or twice a year for the first years of our marriage, I felt like we were friends. When we found out we were going to have a baby we asked Dee if she would – you know, just pack up her whole life and move to Savannah to be our daycare granny. Lucky for all of us, she said yes, and helped raise not only that grandson, but the next one who came along too. She was a very loving granny, letting our kids turn her living room into a Lion King set and much more. I attribute my son’s love of animals and nature to Dee, whose hallway was lined with photos of manatees, blue-footed boobies, and whales she had actually touched. Somewhere around age 60 she decided she needed to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and she did it. What a lively, independent woman she was! My boys and I are so grateful that we had Dee in our lives. We will never forget her. Rest in peace, Granny.

  6. Sharyn Finlay says:

    I am so very grateful to have had the most enigmatic mother I can imagine! She was always the fun Mom who always drove my friends and I to gymnastics practice, football games, and track meets. She would see my clothes and going to the fabric store was always a bonding experience. We didn’t always agree on my choices but she always made it regardless!
    When I had my firstborn Jill, Dee taught me all about babies. She was a natural at being a grandmother!
    As I got older, we became more like friends, talking for hours on the phone and laughing over movies and every day life!
    I will always hold my memories close. She was such a special Mom. Always and forever.

  7. Ellis Finlay says:

    Granny was a very kind, hardworking, and caring person. She cared for me every day that my parents worked until I started preschool. She would always let me look through her calendars because I was interested in odd details like that back then. One of my fondest memories was when Grandpa Roger, Granny, Greyson, and I went on this weekend outing where we stayed at a motel, did a bunch of small hikes, and ate banquets at this super fancy hall. This happened in November 2007, I believe right after Greyson’s 11th birthday.
    Granny will never be forgotten.
    Rest In Peace

  8. Greyson Finlay says:

    I’m most grateful for how much time I got to spend with Granny growing up. She was a great babysitter and we spent countless days watching Disney movies, playing with her cat, Chessie, and visiting her neighborhood pool.
    She helped spark my love for animals and the environment with her stories and photos of national parks explored, rivers rafted, and sharing some awesome nature documentaries that I still remember well (Galapagos was the best one).
    Like Ellis mentioned, our weekend on a grandparent/grandson Sierra Club trip was one I still look back on fondly. She always enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and I had a relationship with her that I’ll always cherish. We’ll all remember Granny and I hope she can live on in each of us.

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