Dr. Harold Finch, who had a significant impact in building God’s kingdom locally and around the world, died on January 8.
Finch was born on March 18, 1933 in Kansas City, Kan., and earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas. As a young engineer in his late 20s and early 30s, he became the Midwest Research Institute’s youngest-ever senior engineer and engineer emeritus. After submitting a proposal that beat out those of the aerospace giants, NASA named him project director of its Apollo heating program. His most significant and enduring contribution to science was his invention of the “barbecue roll,” the computerized system that created a controlled rolling action for the Apollo spacecraft.
In 1964, Finch was named Overland Park’s first man of the year. A couple of years later, an unlikely career move made him an education pioneer. He spearheaded the 1960s’ vo-tech revolution at both Metropolitan Junior College (now the MCC system) and Johnson County Community College.
He later cofounded Padgett-Thompson, which became the nation’s largest business training company and was later sold to H&R Block. Finch next founded CottageCare, which rose to be one of the nation’s premier housecleaning franchisers. His Wellspring Foundation sponsored thousands of people to go and experience foreign missionary work and to bring a new vitality and vision to local churches here at home. In doing so, he never accepted donations. As a result of that ministry around 25,000 people met Jesus in a meaningful way.
Finch was a devoted student of the Bible; a man known for prayer, scripture memory, and great integrity. He was a longtime deacon, deacon chairman, Bible study teacher and the only non-clergy leader to be elected president of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. He also assisted with the expansion of Lee’s Summit Christian School – now Summit Christian Academy – which had been founded a decade earlier by a group of mothers. Along with his wife Peggy, he was a member of Fellowship Church in Greenwood.
Finch’s true passion was inspiring others to dream big dreams and have great success in life — especially eternal success. In retirement, he traveled the world and was invited to speak before numerous federal congresses, supreme courts, national police forces and even ordinary people who packed soccer stadiums to hear his success-oriented, evangelistic talks. His ministry and discipleship efforts, always working in tandem alongside established missionaries in the field for discipleship and follow-up, resulted in around 55,000 people professing Jesus Christ to be their savior. He was also involved in the funding and production of indie Christian films like “Unlimited” and other projects and he was the subject of Pureflix movie.
At 70, he wrote “The 3 Keys to Extraordinary Success” and at 80 (at the urging of Christian leaders) he became executive producer of a theater-released motion picture, “Unlimited,” based on his own life. His story also was the subject of a book titled, “Unlimited,” by best-selling author Davis Bunn.
Finch inspired countless people and left everything he did better than he found it. He was inducted into Southwest Baptist University’s entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame in 1985 and KU’s Engineering Hall of Fame in 2012.
–Alan Goforth | MV