Obituary of James Michael Finch
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February 20, 1934 – October 12, 2023
Hoosier by birth, Californian by choice, Jim was born in South Bend Indiana on February 20, 1934. Jim
said goodbye to cold winters after graduating from high school. He was a standout basketball player
standing 6 ft, 6 inches tall. Despite receiving a scholarship to Florida State, he chose to play B-ball in
Texas. He made many friends on his team and was angered by the prejudice and injustices he watched
his teammates experience, including having to eat and sleep separately from the white players. As a
result, he became disenchanted with Texas and followed a friend to Ventura, CA.
His first job was a postman, but he later joined the Electrical Union and became an electrician. He
started working in the oil fields and then offshore platforms off the Santa Barbara coast. He married
and started a family having three daughters. He later divorced and married Ethel Sawtelle who had a
young son and daughter whom he raised as his own.
Jim’s strong electrical skills took him overseas to his favorite job, working on an off-shore rig in the
North Sea off the coast of Scotland for Lockheed. Despite often treacherous conditions, he and his team
were successful in working under the sea in a one-atmospheric subsea capsule attached to a specifically
outfitted ship. His family moved with him to Scotland where they were able to travel around Europe and
he enjoyed coaching his son’s basketball team – the Hornets. He was able to transfer his skills to
offshore oil work in Brazil for CanOcean Petroleum Servies. His final role was Supervisor of Electrical at
the Physical Plant at University of the Pacific in Stockton.
In his late 50’s, his wife Ethel passed away. He later met Lois Ostgaard whom he married and he settled
in Lodi for many happy years. Lois had three grown daughters whom he cherished in his life.
Jim and Lois had a very active role in the community of Lodi. Jim was a Board Member of the Lodi
Historical Society and President of the Lodi Community Concert Association from 2010 – 2014. They
actively rescued many dogs which they very much enjoyed.
Jim cherished his large extended family with the children of his wives, their spouses, 12 grandchildren
and three great-grandchildren. Jim and Lois adored all of the children in their lives as evidenced by the
numerous photos adorning every inch of their home. Lois preceded Jim in death in 2022.
Jim was well taken care of by family, friends and the staff and caretakers at Oakmont Senior Living
facility and the Bristol Hospice Nurses which was very much appreciated by Jim’s family.
Please honor Jim’s life by donating to Lodi Historical Society, Lodi Community Concert Association or the
Boys and Girls Club of Lodi. A Celebration of Life will be planned in the future.