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Malden mourns passing of longtime, 26-year former varsity football coach Paul Finn

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Served more than 30 years as a teacher and administrator in Malden Public Schools

  Many in Malden and wherever his legions of former players and students are now are mourning this week the sudden loss of former longtime Malden High School Varsity Head Football Coach Paul Finn.

    Coach Finn passed away unexpectedly last Saturday. He was 74 years-old. He would have been 75 in less than a month, on March 5.

   Coach Finn was a member of one of the most well-known Malden families in city history, several of whom were major contributors in the fields of athletics and education.

   He was the longest-serving Malden High School head football coach of the modern era, leading the Golden Tornado program for 26 seasons (1973-1998) and served as a teacher and administrator for over 30 years, from 1973 until his retirement in 2006.

    Coach Finn was born and raised in Malden, was a star student-athlete at both Malden High School (Class of 1965) and Amherst College, and then became the youngest head coach, in any sport, at the time, when he took over the reins of the MHS Football program at age 25 in 1973.

     Most recently, he had lived many years in Melrose, at the Malden-Melrose city line, right next to Pine Banks Park. In recent years, Coach Finn could often be seen walking a route around the park, at times pushing a stroller with one of his six grandchildren. During the spring, he would frequently stop and watch some of the Malden High baseball games or practices.

    Though he retired as head football coach after 26 seasons following the 1998 season, he maintained his connection to the community and the football program by attending games, including the famed Malden-Medford Thanksgiving Day game —including this past one in 2021, a 12-10 Malden win— and the biennial Golden Tornado Club Hall of Fame banquet, at which he especially enjoyed when one of his former players or coaching colleagues were being honored.

     “Coach Finn was a well-respected, much-loved coach and educator in the Malden Public Schools who touched so many lives in his over two decades as Malden High football coach and over 30 years as an educator,” said Malden Public Schools Director of Athletics Charlie Conefrey. “He was one of a kind and he will be deeply missed. Our athletic program and all of its coaches and players offer our condolences to Coach Finn’s family and friends on their loss.”

   Coach Finn himself was as esteemed inductee of the Golden Tornado Hall of Fame, in a rare honor, as both a Coach and a former student-athlete, the only individual to be so honored.

    His late father, Roy Finn, was the founder of the Golden Tornado Club, the booster club for Malden High School sports, in the late 1950s, and a longtime custodian at the high school. The Malden High gymnasium is named in Roy Finn’s honor.  Coach Finn, Roy Finn and two other family members, Peter Finn and Maryann Finn are also inductees in the Hall of Fame.

    Coach Finn was also a member of the Massachusetts State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2006.

   At Malden High School he was especially proud of being a key member of the 1964 Golden Tornado Tech Tourney State Basketball Championship Team, as well as catching two touchdown passes in his senior year Thanksgiving Day win over Medford, in 1964.

  He played football for Malden under the late, legendary Bill Tighe, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship, sharing a weekly, Saturday morning breakfast with his mentor right up until Coach Tighe’s passing at age 96, in April, 2020.

  After high school, Coach Finn attended Amherst College where he played football and rugby and was a proud member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity. Here he met some of his lifelong friends and Jean, the mother of his three children.

     After graduating Amherst in 1969, Paul returned to Malden where he served as a dedicated teacher, assistant principal and head football coach until he retired in 2006.

  According to his family members, “To many, Paul was the teacher and coach that they never forgot and who inspired them to do better. And to some, he was the one they credited for saving their lives. This was the wealth and status that Paul sought after.”
His family also related that after retirement, Paul trained for and ran the Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line at the young age of 54. He hung up his running sneakers after that, but continued to walk every single day. He loved to “walk the lake”, walk to the cemetery and walk to church. Many times, he was pushing a stroller with one of his six grandkids on these walks. This was his favorite.

  Paul was a caretaker. He found fulfillment in caring for his parents, his children and his grandchildren. He lived to make other people happy with no expectations of anything in return.
Above all, Paul’s pride and joy was his family. His wife, Marian, was his partner in all things. They enjoyed travelling to Las Vegas, Florida and Palm Springs and of course to “The Roadside”. No one doted on Paul more than Marian and vice versa. Their love for each other was unconditional and inspirational.
Coach Finn was the son of the late Roy and Lorraine Finn and the brother of Peter Finn and Maryann Finn. He the father of Allison, Meaghan and Christopher and their spouses Wayne, Michael and Elizabeth. He was the grandfather of Claire, Paige, Henry, Caroline, Jake, and Abigail. He also leaves many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends and hundreds of former players, students and colleagues in the coaching and education fields.
A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, February 12, 2022 at St. Mary’s Church, 4 Herbert St., Melrose at 10:00 a.m. Visiting hours are TONIGHT Friday, February 11 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at the Gately Funeral Home, 79 West Foster St., Melrose.
The Finn Family asks that all attendees of Paul’s celebration of life wear Blue and Gold to honor their favorite Golden Tornado.

Former varsity football coach Paul Finn passed away on Saturday, February 5. (Courtesy Photo)
Coach Paul Finn roamed the sidelines at Macdonald Stadium as head football coach for 26 seasons and loved being at the Thanksgiving Day games against Medford with Nedlam. (Courtesy Photo)

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