COLUMBIA -- Retired Chief Justice Ernest Adolphus Finney Jr. will lie in repose at the Rotunda of the South Carolina Supreme Court from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday, December 7, 2017. After 2 p.m., the public may pay their respects at Palmer Memorial Chapel in Columbia from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. that evening.

A public visitation service will be held Friday, December 8, 2017, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. beginning with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Omega rites at the Neal Jones Auditorium on the campus of Morris College in Sumter, followed by a public viewing, and the public funeral service will be 10 a.m. Saturday, December 9, 2017, at the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel followed by a private interment.

The first African-American chief justice, Judge Finney was dedicated to education and social justice, beginning his legal career with little fanfare but with a mixture of hard work and perseverance that led to numerous years of public service. Highlights of his career included being one of the first African-Americans elected to the South Carolina General Assembly since the nineteenth century, serving in the House of Representatives from 1973-1976, at which time be became the first African-American circuit court judge in South Carolina. He was elected as associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court on April 3, 1985, and historically elected as chief justice on May 11, 1994.

Judge Finney leaves to cherish precious memories his bride of 64 years Frances D. Finney; his three children, Ernest A. (Tammy Harper) Finney III, Lynn Carol Nikky (Tonia Poteat) Finney, and Jerry Leo (Elaine Gilliam) Finney; five grandchildren, Amanda Catherine Finney, Felicia Victoria Finney, Jerry Leo Finney Jr., Colleen Teresa Finney and Daniel Matthew Finney; a stepmother, Geneva B. Finney; the Brown-Mays family; and a sea of other Finneys that stretch from Virginia to New Jersey and everywhere in between. He also leaves behind a host of former students, friends, colleagues, secretaries, and good buddies, people who smiled his way and outstretched their hand to help and celebrate his long luminous life.

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In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Ernest A. Finney Jr. Fund, established by a generous first gift by Ernest A. Finney Jr. and Frances Davenport Finney 25 years ago to support scholarships for deserving Claflin University students at the sacred place where they began their lives together. For additional information, please visit

the life of: Justice Ernest Finney Jr. -- Columbia
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