Longtime Tulsa animal advocate Milly Finley dies at 79
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Thursday, August 23, 2012
8/23/12 at 3:28 AM
Milly Finley always said that if it ever came, she would welcome the day that animal shelters were no longer needed.
But in the meantime, she wasn't going to just sit back in hopeful expectation.
The former president of and longtime volunteer for the Tulsa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Finley was for more than 25 years a passionate advocate for homeless, needy and injured animals in Tulsa.
"She just had this deep care and concern for animals," her son George Finley said, adding that her passion had developed when she was young.
From the pet rabbits she raised as a child to the rescue dogs she took in later, animals could always count on Finley to treat them "with the same respect she would a person," he said.
Mildred Merle "Milly" Finley, who was the Tulsa SPCA's president for more than 10 years, died Aug. 15. She was 79. A service was held Monday at Moore's Eastlawn Funeral Home.
A native of Cherryvale, Kan., Finley worked for American Airlines in Tulsa for 30 years and began volunteering with TSPCA in the 1980s.
As president, she led successful efforts to increase fundraising and upgrade the organization's shelter.
She also helped start its volunteer auxiliary, which has grown from about 10 volunteers in the late 1980s to about 150 today.
And she was instrumental, in 1991, in TSPCA's hiring of a full-time animal cruelty investigator.
"For many years, Milly was working full time at American and also running the shelter," said longtime board member D'Ann Berson, adding that Finley helped make the society what it is now.
"She had the ability to see the big picture," Berson said. "Among other things, she really brought the board into a greater awareness that we needed to do more and better marketing."
That included a society newsletter, which Finley started herself. She used it to get out the message about animal concerns, among them urging owners to spay and neuter their pets to help curb overpopulation.
Finley was a founding board member of the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and was presented with the alliance's Kraft Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
She also received the Proubasta-Ruiz Award from Tulsa's Action Front for Animals, presented annually for extraordinary action in defense of or for the welfare of animals.
Finley was a strong supporter of animal-rescue groups, and for the last two decades, she always kept three dogs of her own at a time, George Finley said.
She was especially smitten by Stella, a rescued Rottweiler, that she had for several years.
"But really, they were all her favorites," he said. "She loved them all."
There were few lengths, in fact, to which she wouldn't go for her dogs - or, for that matter, any animal.
Easily recognizable by her flaming red hair, Finley often talked "about having to get 'red-head' with somebody," especially where the welfare of an animal was concerned, her son said.
"You didn't want to get on her bad side," he said.
Finley's survivors include her two sons, George Finley and Brad Finley.
Original Print Headline: Animals were Tulsan's pet project
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Milly Finley: As TSPCA's president, she led successful efforts to increase fundraising and upgrade its shelter. She also helped start its volunteer auxiliary, which has grown from about 10 volunteers in the late 1980s to about 150 today. And she was instrumental, in 1991, in TSPCA's hiring of a full-time animal cruelty investigator