Joseph Michael “Mike” Finger

Joseph Michael Finger, 79, passed away in a boating accident at Gravelly Point Monday, July 16 while fishing on the Potomac River.  Born in D’Hanis, TX, Michael was a prominent economist.  During his twenty-year career at the World Bank, Michael served as the Lead Economist and Chief of the Trade Policy Research Group, focusing on issues related to trade in the developing world.  He previously held positions at the US Treasury Department and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.  Michael was the author of nine books and numerous influential journal articles, and was mentor and friend to a generation of the brightest minds in his field.

Two of Michael’s many passions were soccer and fishing.  He coached his children, continued to spend many weekends refereeing in local leagues, and was a D.C. United season ticket holder from their inaugural season through the opening of Audi Field.  He was an avid bass angler, and while he enjoyed fishing in other parts of the country with friends and family, the Potomac was his river.  But nothing made him happier than sitting at the dinner table enjoying good wine and telling stories, surrounded by his family.

Michael is survived by his wife of 50 years, Mary Hill Finger, in Arlington, VA; children:  Christopher (Paige) of Arlington, VA, Sarah Finger McDonald (Brian) of Corvallis, OR, and Stephen (Cara) of Atlanta, GA; and grandchildren Clemens, Gaston, Atticus, Adine, Mary Adair, and James.

Michael died doing something he loved, just too soon.

Funeral mass will take place on Wednesday, July 25 at 11:00am at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 5300 10th St. N, Arlington.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to ALS Therapy Development Institute (, Southern Poverty Law Center, or the New Horizons Bass Anglers Youth Foundation (1402 Bakers Creek Court, Herndon VA 20170).

10 Responses to Joseph Michael “Mike” Finger

  1. Patrick Hildt says:

    I am sorry to hear about the passing of Coach Finger. His love for the game and his players influenced generations of soccer players, myself and my son being examples. My prayers and condolences to all of his family in their time of loss.

    • Mary Finger says:

      Dear Patrick, Mike so loved coaching you all and would be proud to hear that you have passed down the joy to your son.
      Fondly, Mary

  2. Mary Ann Barnes says:

    Dear Mary,
    So sorry to hear of Mike’s passing. Doug, our on Chris and I sat behind you at many a soccer game. We wondered if you got tickets for the new stadium. So glad to hear Mike go to see the opening game. We will always remember you as a gracious couple with a passion for soccer. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Doug and Mary Ann Barnes

    • Mary Finger says:

      Dear Mary Ann and Doug,
      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, we got season tickets in 127. A great view, but really steep! I’ll get there eventually. On opening night it did not seem right to be among strangers.
      I am getting along fairly well, one step at a time.
      Enjoy the season, and think of us.
      Fondly, Mary F

  3. Jim McDonald says:

    Mary and family,

    Judy and I are saddened by your loss.

    I do hope that your latest cruise with Mike and the family will leave you with some great and lasting memories.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    Jim and Judy McDonald

  4. David Martin says:

    Mike Finger personified the essence of a life well lived with a loving focus on his family and others through his devotion to soccer in Arlington. He had a most successsful career as an economist and writer, but it was his dedication toward those who were from other countries and cultures that speaks volumes about his humanity and true character. God Bless his wife, children & grandchildren and comfort them in their time of grief.
    David Martin

  5. Charlie Taylor says:

    Michael Finger will always be remembered by a generation of young anglers whom he assisted in catching fish during the NHBA Kid’s Fishing Derbies. No matter what he was scheduled to do, Mike always showed up at the Derbies with a smile on his face and a cheery greeting for all. He was a genuine mentor to the kids as the ones he assisted always caught fish.
    His presence will truly be missed by all involved.

    Charlie Taylor

    • Mary Finger says:

      Dear Charlie,
      Mike loved the kids’ derbies! He would talk about the kids and their catches way more than his own fishing trips.
      Fondly, Mary

  6. Louis Fohn says:

    Hi, Mary & children: I knew Mike from early childhood, as he lived across the large lot from my Mamo Rothe! She always held him (and Jim) up as example of how we brothers ought to conduct ourselves (you know, praying all the time & serving Mass!). Mike. drew a lot of good old “horse sense” from his grandma Reily & uncle, Clem Finger. Clem lived on the South bank of the Seco Creek, South of D’Hanis, where Mike no doubt learned his passion for fishing. His grandma rarely whispered. Neither did Mike! Once I heard him say (not in a low voice): “Well Gammie, I can’t do what you think- but only what you say!”

    Rest well, Mike. You left too soon!
    Louis (Lou) Fohn

  7. Roy Pepper says:

    I was truly saddened to hear of Mike’s passing. I knew Mike through local soccer (he refereed many of my games for Murphy’s over the years) and through the World Bank (I recall a trip to Vietnam with Mike when I learned why so many of my colleagues held him in such great esteem as a leading trade economist able to cut through the details to the heart of an issue and to make it fun!!!).
    I am glad that Mike died doing one of the things he loved, but I do wish that he had been given more time to spend with his family and friends – he was one of those rare people who left a warm feeling in the hearts of those who met him. My condolences to the Finger family.

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