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Charles Joseph Finley

charles finley

One of Pennsylvania’s sons and America’s soldiers was lost on 26 December 2019, when Charles Joseph Finley passed away peacefully due to complications from Alzheimer’s at age 92.  He was residing at the Falcons Landing Military Retirement Community in Potomac Falls, Virginia.  Funeral services with full military honors will be held at 3pm ET on 24 February 2021 at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), where he will be laid to rest alongside his wife of 46 years, Jo Ann Hecker Finley.

Chuck was born 24 June 1927 in Unity, Pennsylvania to Charlie and Lucy Fenoglietto, who ran the Commercial Hotel in Tarentum.  After Charlie passed away, Lucy remarried, and the family grew.  Chuck loved his second father, Sam Hildebrand, as well as his two new siblings.  Chuck (known to some as Buddy, Luke, or Charlie), graduated high school early to enlist in the US Marines (WWII)… But, he later smartened-up and served a career in the US Air Force, retiring after 25 years on active duty as a combat navigator and developer of several space systems, to include GPS.  Following his passion for space, he went to work for NASA, where his crowning achievement was helping to design and build the International Space Station.

He had an unparalleled love for his family and his Pennsylvania home, where you could catch him on most every vacation golfing with his brothers, sisters, mom, and kids.  He had a passion for learning anything and everything, first at Penn State, where he was a proud member of the Chi Phi fraternity, then at The Ohio State, and on into retirement, wherever free classes were offered or the Geodetic Survey Squadron (GSS) or the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) were meeting.

Chuck was predeceased by his sisters (Madeline Davis and Ann Stinard), his brother (Dick Hildebrand), his sister-in-law (Peggy Hildebrand), and his brothers-in-law (Jack Davis, Gene Stinard, and Erdie Gahagan).  He is survived by his loving children, Pamela LaFontaine of Ashburn, Virginia and Charlie Finley of Albuquerque, New Mexico… as well as his daughter-in-law (Lori Finley), two grandchildren (Joey and Caroline Finley), and his sisters (Shirley Dickson and Sandra Gahagan).

Chuck’s children are forever grateful for the overwhelming support from friends and family.  If you’d like to reach out about ANC funeral arrangements, or other, please contact Pam at 571-449-0588 or  We are working to get a live-stream link set up.  Though our incredible father no longer walks this earth, his energy and loving spirit live on, inspiring each of us on our individual journey.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Inlet Cluster Memories of Chuck Finley.  Chuck and Joanne were neighbors of ours in Inlet Cluster, Reston, VA for many years.  They were a private, quiet couple and kept very much to them selves until it snowed or trees needed to be trimmed.  Chuck and Joanne would emerge from their house, crack of dawn, with shovels in hand and off they would go!  I would always know when it snowed before I even got out of bed because I could hear their shovels scraping away as they cleared a path for us all up to the car ports.  They both had amazing energy and commitment, it was really something to watch.  After Joanne passed, Chuck became even more engaged (if you can imagine) with any and all snow falls.  I recall that he spent  entire days out side shoveling and breaking up ice in the parking lots to make it safer and easier to drive.  The neighborhood appreciated his efforts and were amazed by his energy, generosity and perseverance!  Chuck was rewarded with baked goods, wine, many thanks and thorough appreciation!
    There was another side to Chuck too!  Anything having to do with trimming trees, logs etc.  Chuck was right there with one of his many chainsaws!  He soon became known as Chainsaw Chuck.  I recall seeing him up in a tree one day with a fancy chain saw in his hand and a huge smile on his face!  He looked like he was having the time of his life!  He was more than eager to assist any neighbor on any tree as long as he got to use his chain saws!  His collection was impressive and so was he! Chuck and Joanne were wonderful neighbors, they strongly believed in community and lending a hand!

  2. Mr. Finley/Chuck mattered in this world – most especially to his wife, his children, his family, his neighbors, his co-workers and his friends.  I knew him as my dear friend Pam’s dad.  Pam and I met when we were plebe year roommates at the Naval Academy, and through her I met Chuck and Joanne.  My own parents were in Michigan and in those days, without cell phones, text or emails, communication was limited to less than once a week.   In there absence, Chuck (and Joanne) so willingly filled in as my surrogate parents – always available to me with their great perspective, encouraging words, friendly smiles, warm hugs, and snacks to take back to the dorm.  Living relatively close to the academy, they would visit frequently and we saw them often (thank God).  In no small part due to their love and encouragement, that year passed and Pam and I made it.  I think of that year and how special Chuck and Joanne were to so earnestly and fully take others into their hearts and home.  Knowing Pam and her brother Charlie, this is no surprise. I read once that “Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people,” and assuredly, Chuck’s big and loving heart is perfectly reflected in his children.  How lovingly Pam and Charlie both care for the many many people in their own lives.  It has been my blessing and privilege to know the Fabulous Finley Family Four.  I love them all and am incredibly grateful to Chuck (and Joanne) for raising such wonderful children.  I know that Pam and Charlie were truly his pride and his joy.  I pray for their peace in Chuck’s passing and a blessed eternal rest for my friend Chuck.

  3. we got to know Charles Joseph Finley on a river cruise in France as a lovable, friendly person. He was always in a good mood and had a lot of fun too. We will always remember him fondly. Rest in peace. Pam you are a good daughter to your father. Our condolences. We’re going to put up a candle for Charles in our church and pray for him. Thomas and Rose Moser

  4. I was introduced to Charley by his friend Ron Ondrejka at one of the annual ASPRS (remote sensing society) conferences years ago.  I was not only impressed by Charley’s history but his ability to talk as much as Ron!  For being in the surveillance programs, it was amazing to hear these two talk as much as they did. 

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