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Rudolph “Rudy” Ernst Finderson, Jr. passed quietly on June 3, 2023, at the age of 86. As he went to be with his Lord, he was surrounded by his loving family and friends. Rudy was born on December 18, 1936, to Rudolph E Finderson, Sr. and Charlotte (Klose) Finderson in Newark, NJ. Rudy grew up in Cliffside Park, NJ and graduated from Cliffside Park High School where he was president of his senior class, National Honor Society Member, and the recipient of the B’nai B’rith Sportsmanship award. He led his high school basketball team to a state championship in 1954, set a career league scoring record and received All League- All County and All State recognitions. Rudy was also named to the “All 1950’s decade” basketball team for Bergen County in NJ. He was inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame first as a player, and then again as a member of the state championship team.
Rudy attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts to continue his basketball career where he earned a BA degree with a major in Economics. He received the distinguished student-athlete award in 1958 as an accomplished basketball player and student.. He was a prolific scorer and averaged better than 20 points a game even without a 3-point shot! He received accolades as the Outstanding Player in New England and was named to Look Magazine All American teams in 1957 and 1958. Also in 1958 Rudy was named AP Little All American, chosen to play in North-South College All Star Game, and drafted to play pro basketball for the Boston Celtics! Rudy is a charter member of the Brandeis Athletic Hall of Fame and was named not only individually, but also as a member of the team that led to the title of Best Small College Team in the East in 1958. Rudy chose to become the youngest NCAA varsity college basketball coach at Brandeis in 1958 at the age of 21, rather than playing for the Celtics. He felt great dedication to his alma mater and his former coach, Harry Stein, who retired in 1958.
After three years of coaching, Rudy entered the US Army as a reservist and was a decorated marksman. He was honorably discharged in 1966. He entered the business world and became a Human Resources VP and executive for ITT and Phillips for over 35 years earning several awards and participating on the board of directors for Park Center and Junior Achievement.
One of Rudy’s greatest joys came in retirement when he accepted the position as 8th grade boys head basketball coach for the Rome City Romans in Rome City, IN. For 10 years he had the honor of coaching over 100 young men the strategies and fundamentals of the game and that the basketball is a “treasure” and we never let go of the treasure. Rudy’s greatest hope was that the idea of the “treasure” transferred to the future in each of their lives. Rome City School nominated Rudy to USA Today as a “Most Caring Coach” in 2009.
In addition to Rudy’s love of basketball and coaching, he also enjoyed traveling to Maine to enjoy lobsters with his wife and friends, taking exotic cruises with family, was a die-hard “Go Blue” Michigan fan and lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. He instilled the love of these teams in the hearts of his children and grandchildren, so this tradition will live on. Rudy also enjoyed collecting electric trains, nautical sea treasures and stories of shipwrecks.
Rudy is survived by his two children, Rhonda (Matt) DeKoninck, Roger (Terra) Finderson, six grandchildren, Nickolas DeKoninck, Kyle (Crystal) DeKoninck, Delaney Finderson, Noah DeKoninck, Zaira Finderson & D’Artagnan Finderson, Brother-in-Law Danny (Amanda) Lee, several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Rudy also leaves behind a legacy of caring and thoughtful friends from each walk of life, including those of his own children and grandchildren. Rudy was proceeded in death by his loving wife of 57 years, Rosemary (Lee) Finderson, his parents Rudolph & Charlotte Finderson, grandparents, and cousins.
Visitation will be held on Friday, June 9, 2023, at Hite Funeral Home in Kendallville, IN from 3pm to5pm with a service immediately following at 5pm officiated by Reverend Philip J. Rigdon, St. John Lutheran Church-Kendallville. A “Celebration of Life” will be from 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Sylvan Cellars in Rome City, IN.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be written to Riley Children’s Hospital or Acadia National Park, Mt. Desert Island, Maine.