Earnest Finney Jr., South Carolina’s first black Supreme Court Chief Justice will be laid to rest Saturday.
Finney, 86, died Sunday at his Columbia, South Carolina home.
Before rising to South Carolina’s highest court, Finney was a well-known defense attorney in the Civil Rights movement.
In 1961, he represented the “Friendship 9”, the Rock Hill Civil Rights group who were thrown in jail for demanding service at an all whites lunch counter.
By his side before, during and after Finney’s big accomplishment, was Finney’s Wife, Frances.
“Everything he touched turned to gold," she said with a smile as she reflected on the courageous actions of her husband.
The lovebirds met in Orangeburg, South Carolina at Claflin University in 1952. Mrs. Finney was a freshman and Mr. Finney was in law school.
“We went to the movies,” Mrs. Finney told NBC Charlotte’s Billie Jean Shaw. “That was really the beginning of our friendship."
Three years later, the two got married.
"I saw where he was going and he had a business mind and that impressed me,” said Mrs. Finney.
The couple now have three children, two sons who practice law and a daughter who is a poet and writer.
While the children always admired their father’s passion for fighting racial injustices, to the world he may have been a superhero, but to them he was dad.
“People think daddy was a superhuman, he wasn't superhuman,” said Nikky Finney, the second oldest child. “He was just cleared eye about what's right and wrong.”
Judge Finney’s oldest son, Earnest, “Chip” Finney says growing up he never wanted to be like anyone else than his dad.
“He would take ne to the office to let me help out with cases,” said Finney. “People like dad were always able to preserve and open the door and allow light to come in on all of us."
As the family prepares to say goodbye to one of the nation’s top civil rights heroes, they ask that you honor his life by always siding with justice, a word included in the late judge’s favorite bible verse.
"Do justice, give mercy and walk humbly with your God, and that was him in a nutshell,” the family said in unison.
“That [Judge Finney] was him in a nutshell."
Funeral services for Judge Earnest Finney, Jr. will take place 10 am Saturday, December 9th at Claflin University.