By Kelsie Hoitomt
ILLINOIS – Beverly Finn, a Glenwood City alumni and current Illinois resident, will be visiting the Glenwood City High School Library on July 9 to talk about her recently published book titled “You Won’t Be Coming Back”.
Finn wrote a non-fiction story about her life, which pans throughout her childhood in poverty, time in foster care, her college experience and eventually to life as a married woman and professional.
Beverly grew up in Cadott alongside eight siblings, which included two older sisters, one older brother, two younger sisters, and three younger brothers.
She was raised by her mother, Mary who was a quiet, but strong woman who cared for nine children, did all the cooking, gardening, laundry and made sure the kids had fresh clothes and groomed bodies.
She was basically a single mother, due to the fact that Beverly’s father, Paul’s life was centered around alcohol, and who spent the majority of their income on booze.
When he was sober, Paul was a skilled craftsman who could build nearly anything from a shed to a house. He was the one who did the butchering for the family and made wool into yarn.
James was the last child born and he arrived in 1951. Then just two short years later on November 8, 1953, Paul disappeared after working on a farm just north of town.
After his disappearance, the family went on welfare, which allowed the children to have dental and medical attention for the first time.
With Mary taking care of nine kids herself, a social worker started to come around.
It was the social worker who decided that the children needed to be put into foster care and out of the poverty stricken life.
Aside from the poverty, it was also decided due to the threat of “Crazy George”, a brother-in-law who continuously tried to assault Beverly and her sister Irene.
He was sent to jail after some time due to his successful attack on Irene.
Beverly was 16 years old, a junior at Cadott High School, when she was removed from her classroom alongside sister Ruby and brothers Ken and Eddie.
Beverly was sent to one home briefly before being placed with Richard and Mary Rivard, who had seven children of their own in Glenwood City.
She shared that a few times she would have a crying jag, but otherwise she truly loved her new home and never thought of running away.
Life with the Rivard family was a lavish one compared to what Beverly had endured the past 16 years.
Beverly came to Glenwood City out of a home that was a 12 x 24 “garage” that had little electricity and no plumbing.
Aside from now living in an actual home that had a real garage, bedrooms and more than one story to it, she was treated to her first Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, etc. as no holidays were ever celebrated in her home.
Beverly was given a lot, but she worked hard as well.
She helped cook and clean and she was an excellent babysitter – for not only the younger siblings, but for the many children from the community who swam in the Rivards’ pool or just stopped by to visit.
“Living with the Rivards was like moving on to heaven compared to the poverty and hardship I had grown up in and known all my life. There was work, to be sure, but having walls of books, fine art, and music to appreciate was more than an even trade off,” wrote Beverly.
When the summer of 1959 rolled around, Beverly graduated from Glenwood City and set off for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
From the time she was a young girl, she wrote poems and plays and was always into different creative writings.
The artistic side of her led her to a college career in the Arts. She was very active in productions including Alice in Wonderland and Hamlet, the latter in which she played Ophelia.
Then one day she was told to go get her speech corrected as she said her R’s with something of a Boston accent.
From her time in therapy, the idea to become a speech therapist stemmed. She dove into that career path and graduated in 1963 with a Secondary Education Degree with a major in speech and a double emphases in theatre and speech therapy along with a minor in English.
It was some time later that Beverly set up the Mary Martinek Bosinske Memorial Scholarship in her mother’s honor. The scholarship goes out to the one outstanding graduate student in Communicative Disorders.
Beverly shared that after she passes away, her name will be added to the scholarship as well.
Beverly spent the summer working as a waitress and doing other odd jobs in the summer before she moved to DeKalb, Illinois.
It was there that she attended Northern Illinois University on an Assistantship through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
During one trip to Illinois with a girlfriend, they decided to go for coffee and to her luck, there were no places open that served coffee.
So with that, the two women went to Andy’s bar, which led them to meet a handsome bartender named Gene Finn.
Gene had previously been a model featured in magazines and newspapers in the Chicago area for Finchley Men’s Wear before the company closed.
The coin flip that led Beverly to the bar ended up in a wedding ceremony on August 21, 1965 that took place back in Glenwood City.
After honeymooning around the area, the Finns headed back to Illinois so Beverly could start her professional career at the Central Community Unit School District #301.
Gene opened his clothing store, which he owned and operated called Finn’s Ltd.
Beverly spent four years in the school district before she took a 16-year hiatus after her first child, Brian, was born in 1967.
With three more sons added to their family, Darren, Brendan and Sean, Beverly spent time inside the school district being a volunteer. She helped with lessons and put together school productions.
It wasn’t until 1985 when one of her sons was diagnosed with a serious blood disorder, that she decided to go back to work incase medical bills became too much.
She was offered two jobs and decided to take one in Sycamore, which was close to home. She worked as a Speech Pathologist until 2001 when she decided to retire.
However, retirement did not last long as she went back to working parttime. She spent time working in Sycamore, Marengo and Rockford Schools.
In 2010, her worked stopped for two years after Brian was killed in the Tesla plane crash in California.
Brian, 42 at the time, was a Senior Manager at Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto until joining Tesla in July of 2008.
He was responsible for developing the interactive infotainment system in the Model S Sedan that was scheduled to hit the road in 2012.
Brian was extremely gifted to say the least and at the time of his death, he had roughly 36 patents with more in the works.
Since 2012, Beverly has been a fill-in around the Rockford area, working for a district that has deaf students with cochlear implants.
She truly loves what she does and cherishes her career choice, which makes it hard to stay away.
“Throughout my professional career that spanned half a century, I worked in 18 different sites, in five school districts with thousands of children ages three to eighteen, interacting with hundreds of teachers, other professional staff members and parents,” Beverly wrote.
Now a days, she and Gene spend their time taking in a show or concert. She has been an avid gardener since a child and continues that today.
“Gene likes to shop for food and I like to cook it,” said Beverly.
She also enjoys reading and watching a good movie with the most recent being Jersey Boys.
She shared that she travels to Wisconsin as often as she can and these days she is quite busy with book readings.
Beverly is the only sibling living in Illinois and the next furthest away is Ruby who is in Massachusetts. As for her foster siblings, Georgianna is in Connecticut and Michelle is in Minnesota.
Every one of them, including the foster siblings are still living and they manage to all keep in contact with each other one way or another.
Beverly shared that her mother lived around the Chippewa Falls area later in her life and she passed away at the age of 88 under the care of a nursing home.
Despite being in different homes and towns, Beverly always kept contact with her mother either through phone or mail.
She recently visited Cadott to do a presentation on her book and in the past she has gone to the town to see her old third through sixth grade teachers as well as women in the Historical Society.
Beverly sat down and typed out her book in just four short months. It was self-published in the fall of 2013 and she already is in the works of creating an extension, which will feature stories on her siblings.
When asked if the story was hard for her to write or emotional, Beverly stated that it really wasn’t.
She enjoyed writing about Richard and the Rivards as well as her teachers and all of those who brought her good memories.
“The hard parts were in fact my best writing in the end, I think,” Beverly said.
Through everything life has thrown at Beverly, she has accomplished her goal of being a respected person who does good things.
She truly believes in turning something tragic into something positive.