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FHP Trooper Ed Finch – fair to one and all

Ed Finch Ed Finch

Trooper Ed Finch wore and respected the uniform of the Florida Highway Patrol for 26 years.  For all who have had the pleasure of knowing Finch, one thing they would say about him is that he was fair, honest and respectful of everyone he came into contact with. I interviewed Ed this past Monday, shortly after he had been paid a visit by the ‘Mark-Out Coffee Club’ with 17 members bringing the coffee club to him.  Ed talked about his career as a trooper and said his desire was that he had always treated everyone the same and was fair to everyone, “I tried my entire time to treat everyone the same.”  

Ed talked about his fellow troopers and what they meant to him, “Newt King and I were like brothers, can’t say enough about him. Roy Hutto was a great guy, always there to help. Marvin Wagner was another great guy. All of us worked together for many years.” 

Ed recalled a story about a lady he stopped many years ago for speeding, “I asked her if she could tell me why she was driving so fast and she looked at me and said, ‘Well, have you ever tried to put on panty hose while you’re driving?’ and that was 

her excuse.”

They say a man’s worth can be measured in many ways and one of those ways can be seen in what others see in him. For Ed Finch, his friends and fellow troopers see a great man, friend, co-worker, and father.  

Marianna Police Chief Hayes Baggett has known Ed for many years, both while a highway patrolman and since his retirement. His words speak volumes for the trooper he was as well as the man he is, “Ed Finch is a fine man that I am fortunate enough to call my friend. During his career he was a true law enforcement officer who served with the Florida Highway Patrol. He had a reputation of one who did not give many breaks if he caught you breaking a traffic law. He was by the book and treated everyone the same. Ed is an expert marksman who has vast knowledge and love for firearms. He imparted his wisdom on numerous students while he was the Range Master for the Chipola College Firearms Range. He and his late wife Sandy dedicated their life to raising and caring for their two children Eddie and Julie. Eddie and Ed are a fixture around town and really enjoy coming to the Marianna Mark-Out Coffee Club. While he was always successful in his professional career, I think his greatest accomplishments are his two children and the special relationship he has with them both.”

Sid Riley has known Ed for decades and is privileged to call him his friend. Riley said the Mark-Out Coffee Club had gone out earlier Monday morning to visit with Ed. They went out and shared some special time and memories with Ed. Sid said, “We are all hoping and praying that he beats this thing he has. I am an example of what prayer can do. Ed hugged me today and I told him I loved him.”  When asked about his relationship with Ed as a trooper, Sid laughed, “Well he never gave me a ticket. He was always correct and you know he had a great personality. You know I think the most striking thing to me about Ed is what he did after his wife died and the love and care and constant admiration that he extended to Eddie.  He is an example for anyone to follow and that has made me hold Ed in very high esteem for what he did as a father. He made Eddie a part of the coffee club. He was adopted by the coffee club. Ed brought him and made him part of the group. What Ed did for Eddie was way far and above what most fathers would have done.”

Retired FHP trooper Bill Horne said of Finch, “Ed Finch, Newt King, Marvin Wagner and Roy Hutto were the epitome of what the Florida Highway Patrol stood for. I grew up on the patrol wanting to work with them. Unfortunately, when I returned home, they were all nearing retirement. They all were very good about stopping by Miller’s Bait & Tackle to check on Ms. Hoovie, Ed probably more than the rest of them.  They all loved Hoovie and they would stop in and visit with her.”   

As a brand-new driver at 16, I became acquainted with ‘Trooper Finch’ the day I was issued my driver’s license. I was on my way to my granny’s and as I rounded the curve just outside of Malone, he greeted me with his blue lights. I handed him my license and he looked at me and as only he could do, said, ‘This license is how old?’ I told him less than a day, that I had gotten them early that morning to which he very calmly and sternly replied, ‘They won’t see their first birthday if you don’t slow it down.’ I agreed and thought surely, he wasn’t going to give me a ticket – WRONG! I received a ticket and gulped when I saw how much of my hard-earned pay it took. Unfortunately, I kept my lead foot for many years and Trooper Finch and I had many encounters with his being given the task of investigating a few of my wrecks along the way. After his retirement he and Eddie would come in the TIMES office and we would talk about various ‘encounters’ and he would say each and every time, “I hope I was fair.” And although at the time, I may not have thought he was, looking back he was always fair from calming me down when he was called as a trooper to investigate my numerous wrecks to overlooking my justification of why I was driving over the speed limit. 

Ed has a daughter, Julie Collins and son Eddie. Julie and her husband, Heath have two sons, David age 15 and Nathan age 13.  

When Ed spoke of where he is now in his life, he said, “I always thought that if somebody told me I was fixing to die that it would scare the Hell out of me and this has not frightened me at all. God loves me and I love the Lord.”

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