“Such a great guy!” In remembrance of Dennis Finch

South Dakota lost a great man last week. Secretary of Labor under Governor Dick Kneip & supporter of many progressive causes, Dennis Finch cared so much about his family, his community, and his state. He’ll be remembered for a long time to come. Dennis Finch


Such a great guy! Anyone and everyone who crossed paths with Dennis Finch spoke this phrase, or the words crossed their minds. Dennis entered this world on August 20th, 1944, to William (Bill) and Olive Finch and his big sister Karen Jensen (Scottsdale, AZ). He grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and graduated from Washington Senior High School in 1962. He was the first member of his family not only to graduate from college, but to continue on. He received a law degree from USD Law School in 1971.

Dennis married Nancy Brandner on July 3, 1971, in Herreid, South Dakota. During their amazing 43 years together, they had four daughters: Jennifer Finch-Mitchell (Rochester, MN), Stephanie Powers (Rapid City, SD), Rebecca Almy (Rapid City, SD) and Jessica Finch (Aspen, CO); three sons-in-law: Todd Mitchell, Shawn Powers, and Jeff Almy; and five grandchildren: Jason and Jared Mitchell, Kelbie and Carter Powers and Piper Almy.

Dennis’ life was focused around three things: his career, his community and, most of all, his family. Dennis began his career working in Pierre for the South Dakota Department of Labor and quickly advanced to become the Secretary of Labor under Governor Kneip. In 1978, Dennis and his family packed up and moved to Rapid City, SD, where he opened his own law firm. Dennis received many awards and honors for the work that he did. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Dennis received the highest possible rating in both Legal Abilities & Ethical Standards from the SD Bar Association. He was listed in “Best Lawyers” in Worker’s Compensation law. Dennis absolutely loved his career, and never wanted to retire.

Dennis also gave much to his community. He was involved with many local, regional and state-wide organizations and clubs. He was President of the Dacotah Territory International Visitors Program. He opened his home to people from all over the world, and always said those occasions were his contribution to world peace. Dennis was involved in the Black Hills Corvette Club, Black Hills Sportsmen’s Club, Dakota Territory Dance Club, South Dakota Bar Association, American Bar Association, South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association, Rose Bud Sioux Tribal Court Bar Association, and Tai Chi classes. He loved politics, law and being around people.

Dennis, along with family and friends, spent his summer days camping, grilling, fishing and boating around Sheridan Lake. He traveled all around the United States and had a few opportunities to visit other countries. Dennis and Nancy cruised the Black Hills and multiple states in his dream car, his Chevy Corvette, always with the top down. In the fall, Dennis never missed opening weekend of pheasant hunting season (except one) and occasionally his children and son-in-law Jeff joined him. Most of all, though, Dennis served as loving husband, father and wonderful role model for his growing family. He supported them all in every way he could, loved them with all his heart, and spoke of them with pride to everyone he knew. They were the center of his life.

With the help of his wife, family, and friends, Dennis lived life to the fullest.

In addition to his immediate family, Dennis is survived by his sister: Karen [Jerry] Jensen of Phoenix, AZ.

Dennis was preceded in death by his parents and one infant brother, Steven.

A celebration of his life will be held at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center, 2111 North LaCrosse Street in Rapid City at 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 24th with Rev. Richard Fisher officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to The Dacotah Territory International Visitors Program (Donna Denker & Associates 521 Kansas City Street, Rapid City, SD 57701), USD law school (USD Foundation), and The SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation (523 East Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501).

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