PROVIDENCE CANCER INSTITUTE – It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Elsie Franz Finley who died Aug. 14, 2018. She was 97 years old.
She will be forever remembered as a pioneering business woman, loving wife and sister, friend, community leader and philanthropist. She generously gave her time, talents and resources to the community she loved. Providence was blessed to have been one of Elsie’s favorite organizations and the place she trusted with her health care.
Elsie was born in Portland and was a longtime resident of Vancouver, Washington. She was preceded in death by her husband, Don Finley, her brother Robert W. (Bob) Franz, and her parents Joseph Franz and Elizabeth Streib Franz. Together, Elsie and her brother had an enormous impact throughout Oregon and Washington, especially at the University of Portland and Providence Health & Services.
Elsie grew up in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, attending church at All Saints Parish. She went to college at the University of Oregon graduating in 1943 with a degree in business administration. After graduating, she went to work for the family-owned First State Bank of Milwaukie, the beginning of a long career in banking alongside her husband, Don Finley, and her brother, Bob Franz. Many of Elsie’s colleagues recall her amazing smarts, work ethic, and the overall example of leadership she set in an era where female leaders were a rarity.
Elsie and her brother Bob were a major philanthropic and visionary force within Providence for more than 30 years. Their longtime relationship with Providence Portland Medical Center led Elsie and Bob to establish the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, led by Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., which is located within Robert W. Franz Cancer Center in Portland. The center’s main area of investigation is cancer immunotherapy, a specialized field of study focused on triggering the immune system to fight cancer. Thanks to their early and consistent investments in cancer research at Providence, Dr. Urba and his colleagues are well-known worldwide as pioneering leaders in immunotherapy.
After Bob’s death in 2016, Elsie was deeply involved with the renaming of Providence Cancer Center to the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center to honor their unmatched generosity and leadership in the fight against cancer. Although many at Providence suggested she also be included in the naming, she insisted that only her brother be recognized. Incredibly generous and humble philanthropists, both Elsie and Bob never sought the spotlight.
Elsie Franz Finley leaves a legacy of philanthropy across the Portland area, particularly focused on Catholic causes. Elsie gifted most of her wealth in the past year to numerous organizations, including Blanchet House, Benedictine Sisters, CYO/Camp Howard, La Salle High School, Providence Cancer Institute, Providence Milwaukie Hospital’s Family Residency Program, Providence Child Center, the Gilbert Chair for Infectious Diseases at Providence Portland Medical Center, the University of Portland, the Sisters of St. Mary’s and numerous other Catholic organizations. Within Providence her legacy will live on through the thousands of health care providers, patients, and families who will benefit from her tremendous generosity.
A memorial mass will be held in September. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center at Providence Portland Medical Center or to the University of Portland School of Nursing.
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