Faces of Tamworth: Community icon Jim Finucane still working at 90

JIM Finucane was born in the same month of the same year as Slim Dusty. 

While the Tamworth 90-year-old admits he doesn’t share the country icon’s musical talent, they do share a connection of another kind.

“I can’t sing as well as him, but I did win a Slim Dusty award as one of three people in Australia for mateship in 2014,” Jim said.

And that is just one of Jim’s many achievements, recognised for his lifelong commitment to the local community.

Jim was born in Coonamble in 1927, as one of 13 children. 

When his father died when Jim was just 19, he took on family responsibility, helping raise his seven siblings who still lived at home at the time. 

“I took on the responsibility,” Jim said.

“I can’t really remember what I did when I was 20 to 25, but then I took on being a fire brigade person.”

He received a medal for 15 years as a volunteer fireman. 

It was when Jim was travelling across the North West working for an insurance company that he decided he wanted to live in Tamworth.

“I came to Tamworth for conferences and I was looking for somewhere to settle,” he said.

“My vision was always to come to Tamworth.

“What drew me to Tamworth was the hills.

“I compared Dubbo to Tamworth. 

“Tamworth has the hills, as well as the plains.”

APPRECIATED: Jim Finucane shows Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and veterans affairs minister David Elliott the plans to revitalise the park. Photo: Haley Craig

APPRECIATED: Jim Finucane shows Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and veterans affairs minister David Elliott the plans to revitalise the park. Photo: Haley Craig

Jim’s insurance work saw him beat out 23 qualified accountants to secure the job of overseeing insurance of the Australian Jockey Club in 1967 – a feat he cites as his greatest working achievement.

Jim met his wife, Margaret Jean Finucane, in Sydney, and they married in 1970.

“I convinced my wife, from Bondi, to live in Tamworth,” Jim said.

“We bought three people here, and had our fourth child in 1978.”

Jim moved to Tamworth anticipating to work in the insurance industry, but instead found himself doing a raft of jobs, from gardening and delivering bread to running bus tours.

“The most interesting employment I had in my life was when the owner of a bakery rang me at 9 o’clock one night and said, ‘can you merchandise the break at the supermarket at 7 tomorrow morning?’

“I didn’t know I could even merchandise.”

Jim has a long list of credits to his name – from running the richest one-day country race meet in the country in Coonamble (which drew some 4000 people, despite the town having only 3000 residents), to founding three building services. 

He’s found homes for 45 families and served as a justice of the peace for 42 years.

He was the inaugural treasurer of the Tamworth Federation of the Justice of Peace of North West.

Jim has been presented with a life membership of the Manchester Unity Lodge on the back of his 70-year membership.

He established the Friendship Force in Tamworth in 1989.

He’s also received a Seniors Week award, and served as president of the Tamworth Senior Citizens.

“I developed into looking after men’s health,” Jim said.

He became the founding member of OMNi (Older Men’s Network incorporated) in Tamworth in 2003 after a brush with ill health took him to Sydney. 

“I found a men’s group there, and so bought it to Tamworth,” he said.

Jim has also been a tireless driving force of the Westdale Memorial Park upgrade. 

It’s a passion that saw him rewarded with a $5000 grant from the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs David Elliott in October 2016 to go towards restoring the park to its former glory.

He also hopes 15 citrus trees planted at the park last Spring will see a citrus festival get off the ground in Tamworth.

At the time, the grandfather-of-six told The Leader he lived by a simple credo: don’t get old, get active.

“I’m fortunate,” he said.

“I’m driven by the spirit of God. 

“I’m 90 years old and nothing is a problem.

“I’m still alive and I’m still doing things. 

“We have about five projects going at the moment.”

It’s the sense of country and community that has kept Jim in Tamworth for so many decades.

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