Redmond “Reddy” C. S. Finney, a headmaster of the Gilman School in North Baltimore for more than two decades and co-founder of two programs to enroll more African-American boys from the city, has died, the school announced in a letter to faculty and students.
Finney died in Northeast Harbor, Maine, where he had a summer home.
During his career as a leader at his alma mater, Finney steered major changes to bring more diversity to Gilman’s tony campus, co-founding the programs Upward Bound and Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.) to bring in students from the city’s public schools.
“I don’t think the private school can look upon itself as that place where the chosen, or the people who have the wherewithal, can reside alone,” he said in a decades-old interview featured in the hour-long Maryland Public Television special “A Path to Follow: The Reddy Finney Story.”
After graduating from Gilman in 1947, Finney went to Princeton University to study religion and was part of the wrestling, football and lacrosse teams. In his senior year, he was named captain of the wrestling team and an All-American in football and lacrosse.
After a two-year stint with the Navy during the Korean War, he received his master’s degree in education from Harvard, returning to Gilman in 1954 to teach history, mathematics and religion, and to coach the three sports he played as an undergrad and high school student.
In 1967, while serving as the director of discipline for the Upper School, Finney helped create the Upward Bound program, using federal funds to enroll students from impoverished backgrounds. He was appointed headmaster the following year.
Two decades after starting Upward Bound, Finney helped create B.E.S.T., a partnership that provides financial assistance for promising African-American students from the Baltimore area to attend 18 private schools.
Finney was also responsible for coordinating classes between Gilman and the nearby Roland Park Country School and The Bryn Mawr School. He retired in 1992.
“He shaped Gilman’s history and diversity in ways that we continue to celebrate today, developing men of character from boys of promise for more than four decades,” the school’s letter said. “His impact extends beyond the halls of Gilman as he gave the same energy and passion to the community of Baltimore.”
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.