Jean Finlayson
Jean Finlayson
Jean Finlayson
Jean Finlayson

Obituary of Jean Finlayson

Jean Finlayson August 23, 1928 – August 1, 2021 “A Good Teacher opens the door and helps a child to go through those doors and see what wonderful opportunities are out there in the world.” - Jean, 2002 Just shy of her 93rd birthday, Jean died peacefully at Laurel Circle in Bridgewater, NJ. The daughter of immigrant parents from Cromarty, Scotland, Jean was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the first member of her family to be born in America. In sixth grade, Jean moved to Penns Grove, NJ where she graduated from Penns Grove Regional High School. In 1950, she was one of the first women graduates from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Additionally, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Maine and postmaster credits from Columbia University, Teachers College. n Jean’s successful career as a teacher and administrator was launched when she taught first through sixth grade at the “old” Lafayette School and Smalley School from 1951-1965. In 1965, she was appointed principal of Lafayette School until 1977 when she was appointed principal of Smalley School until she retired in 1984. Jean directly influenced the educational development of hundreds of local children through her creative ways for enrichening their lives through music, drama, the arts, and an appreciation for the environment. Jean was a recipient of many honors. She was awarded the internationally prestigious Fulbright Scholarship twice. As a Fulbright Scholar, she took a leave of absence from 1959-1960 where she taught at the American School of Guayaquil in Ecuador. She was lauded by the State Department for her educational acumen and contributions for international relationships. In 1963-1964, during her second leave of absence, she taught drama at the International School in Jakarta, Indonesia. Throughout her life, Jean was an avid and dedicated community volunteer. Her vast accomplishments include being a member and Elder in The Bound Brook Presbyterian Church; moderator of the Presbyterian Women’s Group; Co-Chairman of the Church’s Tercentennial Celebration in 1988; Past President of the Women’s Literary Group; member of the Board of Trustees and Treasure of the Bound Brook Library for over 40 years; Charter Member, Vice-President and Trustee of the Twin Boros Scholarship Committee; Past President for three terms of the Somerset Chapter of Zoeta International, a business and professional women’s group; Chairman of the Bound Brook Centennial Committee in 1976 and Past President for three terms of the Woman’s Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Chapter 1, New Brunswick. Some of the numerous awards that Jean received were in 1970 recognition as an “Outstanding Educator of America”; 1977 receiving American Legion (Giles Biondi Post) Meritorious Service Award; Eight Annual Evergreen Event honoree; 2002 selected by the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Woman Outstanding Women in Somerset County Honoree Award; 2003 awarded the Cecillia Gaines Holland Award-this prestigious award given to a New Jersey Federated of Women’s Club member for her outstanding civic and volunteer work; 2005 awarded Honorary Life Membership by the Presbyterian Women of New Brunswick; and 2008 Certificate for 50 years of membership in P.E.O for her endless service. Jean enjoyed traveling with her co-worker and companion Vivian David attending Elderhostel programs and visiting their numerous friends throughout the world. In her free time, she enjoyed attending the theater, opera, and organizing Movie Night at Laurel Center. Jean loved living in her adopted town of Bound Brook and being an integral member of The Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook. Bound Brook and the surrounding area are still reaping the benefits of Jean’s deep commitment to her community, county, and state as an educator, volunteer, organizer, spokeswoman, and tireless advocate for broadening the opportunities to provide scholarships and tirelessly helping everyone. Through her life, Jean inspired the best in everyone. She encouraged excellence not by demand but by respect for her endless dedication to education. Jean was preceded in death by her parents Alexander and Joan Finlayson, and brother Alexander Finlayson. She is survived by her niece Anne Hamilton; great nieces Heather Bechtel and Megan Hamilton; great nephew Alexander Hamilton; great-great nephews Benjamin and Christoffer Hamilton, second Cousin Ian Edwards and their families. The family would like to thank the staff and members of Laurel Circle, Serenity Hospice and The First Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook for their endless support and assistance rendered to Jean. There will be Celebration of Life Reception on September 25, 2021, at 11 am at The Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook. Masks are required to be worn at the reception and COVID-19 precautions followed. The church will be LIFE streaming the Celebration on their website. There will be a private family Interment at Eglinton Cemetery where Jean will be buried with her parents and brother. Jean’s family encourages any memories of Jean or expressions of sympathy be posted on website or email to In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Jean can be made to Twin Boros Scholarship Foundation (P.O. Box 444, Bound Brook, NJ 08805); The Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook; or P.E.O. Foundation - designate Jean Finlayson Scholarship, Chapter I, New Jersey Fund, #7883 ( donations).

Memorial Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Saturday, September 25, 2021
The Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook
409 Mountain Avenue
Bound Brook, New Jersey, United States
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