Lake Mts

OFFICIAL OBITUARY FOR

Earl L. Finkler

1940 - 2022

OBITUARY Print

Earl Leo Finkler of Medford, passed away on March 5, 2022.

A funeral service will take place at 11am on Tuesday, March 15 at Hemer-Pickerign Funeral Home in Medford. Visitation will start at 9:30am.   

The service will be livestreamed to the funeral home's facebook page at Hemer-Pickerign Funeral & Cremation Services.

Earl was born on February 2, 1940, in Milwaukee. He attended Pius XI High School and Marquette University earning a degree in...

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555 W. Cedar St., Medford, WI
1-715-748-2215

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Frank Popper

April 12, 2022 1:54 PM

Like Dan Lauber, I first met Earl in the early 1970s in Chicago at what was then the American Society of Planning Officials, later the American Planning Association. It was a 1950s-style organization trying hard to adapt to the 1960s, environmentalism, feminism, and civil rights, mostly vainly. Earl, Dan, I, and a few others were part of the effort, whose most pleasant part was adding up wins and losses, mostly draws, late Friday afternoons in a Hyde Park bar that--I just checked--is still there.  Then it was middle-aged. Now it's venerable. 

Earl was then focused on making land-use planning less focused  on economic and population growth for their own sake, having it pay more attention to environmental, social-justice, and quality-of-life issues. He wrote several still-influential reports on the subject and was the lead author of the 1976 book "Urban Nongrowth: City Planning for People." At his invitation I was the third author, a wonderful honor.

Earl left Chicago for Arizona and Alaska, I for the Eastern Seaboard, but we always kept in touch. I was never a fan of the annual American Planning Association conferences, but they always improved if he went. He had one of the best nonsense detectors I've seen, and an APA meeting always needed his. Plus he was just plain fun to be around. He knew people and places most people didn't. He read widely, and if he hadn't read something he had worthwhile opinions on it anyway, a truly rare talent.

I always had the impression he came into his own in Alaska. The place offered him scope for his four professional loves: planning, journalism, and radio, and planning journalism on the radio. Everyone I've ever known from Alaska remembers his broadcasting, especially its brilliant details and spectacular humor. That's how I like to remember him too. RIP, Big Guy.

James E Roghair

March 31, 2022 5:51 PM

Chris, it was so great to know you and Earl in Barrow (now Utqiagvik}. Alaska. I was there when you two were married, and I visited your home months after my wife died, and you pried out of me news that I was engaged again. I am living in New Mexico now, Earl repeatedly wanted me to keep the AK people aware of what was going on on the southern border through his weekly KBRW radio program. He was determined to keep in touch. What a privilege to have worked with you and with Earl.  God bless you as you mourn and move forward.  Jim (Rev. James E Roghair)  

Dan Lauber

March 27, 2022 6:48 PM

It wasn’t his height that made Earl Finkler larger than life. It was his exuberant, passionate personality and soul that made Earl somebody you couldn’t help but love and respect.

Earl and I first worked together way back in the early 1970s in the Planning Advisory Service of the American Society of Planning Officials (ASPO) where Earl was prone to respond to serious requests for technical assistance with accuracy and a sense of humor. I remember well how he responded to a request about zoning for baseball fields with an hilarious response couched in all sorts of terms related to his cherished Chicago Cubs (I kept telling him that his addiction to the Cubbies could be cured with treatment, but he paid me no mind).

A few years after each of us had moved on to greener pastures, Earl and I were the first former employees of ASPO ever elected to its Board of Directors. Earl was beloved in the city planning community, especially among the western planners for whom he frequently wrote articles in their magazine.

No matter where Earl ventured, he remained passionate about planning, justice, the little guy, and Born To Be Wild. For reasons I could never fathom (being a southside native Sox fan), Earl was the most devoted Cubs fan I’ve ever known and I was thrilled for him beyond words when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. I don’t know why he got me on KBRW radio in Barrow, AK as a guest to talk about the Cubs’ chances that year, but I felt honored to be asked. (He had also interviewed me on planning and politics over the years.)  It was only during his moving funeral that I learned I wasn’t so special -- he had interviewed on KBRW nearly everybody in attendance.

And I remember well how thrilled Earl was to have interviewed James Michener, author of Tales of the South Pacific upon which the musical South Pacific was based. I think that was one of the real highlights of his life up to that point. He would literally beam when he told the story.

We both shared a love of the film Field of Dreams and the shirt he wears in his photo in this online obituary (I’ve got exactly the same LL Bean shirt). And I remember when, before a ballgame at Miller Park some years ago, my wife and I sauntered up to Milwaukee from Chicagoland to meet Earl for dinner and a frozen custard (dinner was just the excuse to have the frozen custards) at Gilly’s where he embraced in his typical bear hug the waitress who actually remembered him from more than a decade ago.

But that’s really no surprise since Earl was, and remains, an unforgettable force of nature. I am glad that he and Chris found each other and got to spend so many wonderful years together (his enthusiasm and love of her were palpable whenever he spoke of her).

Like everybody else here, I miss him dearly.

Annie Patterson

March 15, 2022 11:51 PM

I knew Earl in Barrow, Alaska. I enjoyed hearing him on the radio every morning! He was always kind and cheerful. My condolences to his family. 

Memorial Tribute

March 15, 2022 4:14 AM

A Grove of 3 Memorial Trees was planted in memory of Earl L. Finkler

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