William Thomas “Willy” Finnerty

William Thomas Finnerty, known as “Uncle Bill” to family, “Bill” to his coworkers at UW, and “Willy” to his innumerable friends, passed away quickly and without pain in Laramie, Wyoming on March 19th, 2021.  He fought for months in hospital in Colorado, but chose to return to Wyoming to end his life where it began.

Willy was born on June 9th, 1943 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His parents were Joseph Finnerty and Catherine (Lynch) Finnerty.  He was educated at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Cheyenne, and graduated in 1961.  He moved to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming.  He was drafted into the army in 1967 during the Vietnam War, but the prayers of his mother and sister and his typing skills kept him stationed in Hawaii. Returning to Laramie, he worked for years as a bartender at the Fireside and later Crown Liquors. He “retired” from bartending and became a custodian at Wyoming Hall until his second retirement in 2016. Bill never married, but had 21 nieces and nephews whom he loved and cared for as his own. During his bartending days and his time at UW, Bill met many of the friends he still has today.  He was a devout Catholic and was a member of St. Laurence and St. Paul’s Newman Center in Laramie.  Bill was a fixture in Laramie, and was often seen walking with his long beard blowing in the wind until he shaved it when the Wyoming Cowboys finally won the Las Vegas Bowl in 2004. He was a true and lifelong Wyoming Cowboys and Cowgirls fan. He was known for his sharp, intelligent wit and always reminded everyone to “love each other more.” Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Dorothy Person and her husband Sonny, his brother James Finnerty, his nephew Dan Finnerty, great-nephews Seth Person and Dave Finnerty and great-great nephew Josh Gleave.  He is survived by his sister-in-law Judy Finnerty and 20 nieces and nephews:  Pat Finnerty, Joe Finnerty, Becky Finnerty-Beach (Doug Beach), Jenny Rardin (Tom), Sara Finnerty (Richard Belgard), Liz Foxley (Ryan), Cyndy Gleave (Chris), Rick Person, Chris Person (Terri), Joseph Person (Debbie), Oley Person, Peggy Merchant, Jude Person, Mark Person (Debbie), Katy Boname, Luke Person (Leanne), Matt Person (Karen), Molly Amen-Peterson (Rolf), Dan Person, and Ann Person (Hector Pop). He is also survived by great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews and even a great-great-great niece and nephews. He is survived by more friends than can be accounted for, but they know Willy’s love for them. 

Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. Monday, March 22nd at Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home. Vigil Service will be at 6 p.m. Monday, March 22nd at St. Paul’s Newman Center. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 23rd at St. Paul’s Newman Center. Inurnment will be at a later date at Olivet Cemetery in Cheyenne. A celebration of Willy’s life is planned at the Elks Lodge in Laramie on a date to be announced.  Donations may be made to a charity of your choice, the Cowboy Joe Club, St. Mary’s School, St. Paul’s Newman Center or Hospice of Laramie in Willy’s name.

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Condolences (9)

  • Carrie

    I worked with Bill for over 11 years in Wyo hall. He was a great guy and a lot of fun. I used to hide his custodian cart any chance I got when he left it unattended. He came to me many times when there was a bird in one of the rooms or a rabbit down in one of the holes always looking to me for help to get the animals out of the building. ? He was a great guy and will be greatly missed.

  • Fred Freimuth

    Willy and I went to St.Marys school in Cheyenne together since 3rd grade and I shared his basement apartment for 2 1/2 years when I attended UW in the early 70's. High School football was a sport we both played in and survived playing at around 130 pounds each in back field positions. While living with Willy we would make the rounds to various bars and it seemed he would know half the people at each place. There were times when someone from the Fireside would call the apartment and asked if I might know where Willy was or if I could fill in for him since I became his apprentice bar tender. I enjoyed knowing and living with Willy and know how much he'll be missed in Laramie. Fred Freimuth, Cheyenne, WY.

  • Anonymous

    I had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans with Willie in 1987 for the final four. I was a bartender at the Elks while in college and got to know Willie well. He was very intelligent with a fantastic wit and sense of humor. He will be missed but I am sure St. Peter and the boys are having a few chuckles with him. Blessings to you all.

  • Jeanette Lamb

    Oh man, I loved Will. Such a sweet man, I knew him from the Crown and then saw him regularly at Wyo Hall. He was always so funny and kind. Anyone who knew him from back in the day would remember what a "doooo dahhh" day was. R.I.P. fine sir, you will be missed.

  • Pete and Judy Ellsworth

    We worked at UW in Wyoming Hall and, for years, saw Bill on a daily basis. He was fun to visit with and to be around. He was a fine custodian and became a friend -- always willing to help out when needed. We particularly enjoyed his stories of living in Wyoming Hall when he was a student. We will miss him. Our thoughts go out to his family. Pete and Judy Ellsworth

  • Lon Peterson

    This is Lon Peterson a brother to Rolf and Molly. I never knew uncle Bill directly , but the stories told by Rolf and Molly tell the tale of a fun loving guy devoted to his family. He was loved by all and a wit exceeded by few. He had a fulfilled life and we know he will be a great addition to the choir above. Peace Bill and go with God.

  • Anonymous

    Wily will forever hold a special place in my heart, he was kind, considerate and always had a genuine "Hello" to everyone he knew.

  • Anonymous

    I always enjoyed seeing Willie, usually up in Centennial at Ginger’s house. What a fun, sweet man. Joean Lankford


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