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James M. Fink, M.D.September 19, 1936 ~ October 28, 2009 (age 73)
The family of James M."Jim" Fink, M.D.
wishes to express their deepest gratitude and admiration for the life of their
beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother. Dr. Fink, age 73, of South Bend passed away
at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, October 28, 2009 in his home after a valiant six-year
battle with multiple myeloma. He was
devoted to his family, and a physician dedicated to healing the ill, defending
the less fortunate, and bettering his community. His intelligence and care for others was
evident in everything he did, and served as an example to all those whose lives
he touched. He will be profoundly missed
and never forgotten.
James was born on September 19, 1936 in
Huntington, IN to the late Helen (Hartman) and Francis Fink, who was editor of
the Our Sunday Visitor Catholic newspaper where Jim worked during part of his
young adulthood. Jim entered the
seminary and attended Our Lady of the Lake Seminary in Wawasee, where he
graduated as valedictorian in 1956. He
then attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he received a Bachelor's
degree in Philosophy. After deciding to
leave the seminary, he worked as executive secretary of the Catholic Youth
Organization in Gary. While working in
Gary, he had two revelations that were turning points in his life: he met his future wife, Marjorie F. "Margie"
(Klimaitis), and made the decision to pursue a career in medicine. The next year he enrolled at the University of
Notre Dame to fulfill his premedical requirements. On August 27, 1960 in Gary, IN he married
Margie (Klimaitis) Fink. He obtained his medical degree from Loyola University
(Chicago), where he graduated first in his class in 1964. He served in the
Public Health Service for several years, working as a physician on Native
American Indian reservations in Arizona, before completing his residency in
Internal Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. In 1970, he moved his growing family to South
Bend, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.
Jim began his medical practice at the
South Bend Clinic, and after several years, left to open a private practice in
internal medicine, focusing on heart and lung disease. In the early 1970s, he was the founding
medical director of the area's first cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center,
affiliated with St. Joseph's Hospital.
For years he could be found before 6:00 a.m. exercising alongside his
cardiopulmonary rehabilitation patients getting to know each on a personal
level and tailoring their medical care to enhance their health and overall
quality of life. He was keenly
interested in his patients as real people.
He also served as medical director for the St. Joseph's Hospital
respiratory care service and as director of the St. Joseph County Health
Department. He volunteered at the Chapin
Street Clinic before eventually becoming its medical director, and he continued
to volunteer there even after his retirement.
Jim loved spending time with his family,
which meant everything to him. Though he
worked long hours, he found time to travel with them, or spend simple hours
raking leaves, going for walks, riding bikes, or going on hikes. He was an avid Cubs and Notre Dame Fan, and
shared his enthusiasm for sports with his family. He enjoyed a consistent, healthy lifestyle,
and even before it was fashionable, he was preaching and practicing healthy
eating and exercise.
Jim was an avid reader, always seeking,
questioning, and learning more, treasuring knowledge and truth. He loved trivia, and was known to be like a
living encyclopedia. He chose a
profession that matched his gifts well, and that also allowed him to serve
others. His guiding principle was to
love God, and serve God by caring for his fellow man, and he accomplished this
with his extraordinary devotion to medicine and his outreach to the poor and
less fortunate. He had an astonishing
work ethic. He was genuinely concerned
about helping others and improving his community, country, and world. He dedicated time to his patients at any
hour. He went the extra mile with his
patients, and was kind, supportive, gentle, patient, understanding, and a good
listener and problem solver. By
respecting the lives of others and relating to them with honesty, justice, and
charity, he hoped to spend eternity with his loving God.
In addition to his wife, Margie, Dr.
Fink is survived by four daughters, Mary Meck, Annie (Jeff) Stahl, Nancy T.
Sawyer and Julie (Chris) Hall, all of South Bend; four sons Mike (Amy Kownack) Fink
of Mesa, AZ, Joseph (Sarah) Fink of Valparaiso, IN, Billy Fink of Granger and
Ronald Michael (Monica) Fink of Oklahoma City, OK; and twenty two grandchildren, Ted and Jimmy Meck,
Adam and Sam Fink, Hopey, Peter, Francie and Julia Fink, Katie and Madie Stahl,
Danny, Joey, Tommy and Laura Sawyer, Michael, Jessica, Emily, Sarah and Matthew
Hall, Elijah Fink, and Cameron and Conner Kownack. Also surviving are two sisters, Ann Eckert of
Fort Wayne, IN and Carol (John) Fitzgerald of Muncie, IN; and three brothers,
Jack (Marie) Fink of Indianapolis, Bill Fink of Muncie, IN and Tom (Sheila)
Fink of Fort Wayne, IN.
A son-in-law, Patrick J. Sawyer preceded
in death on July 21, 2008 and a grandson, Carston Kownack preceded on August 1,
A Memorial Mass will be held at 10:30
a.m. Monday, November 2, 2009 at Little Flower Catholic Church, 54191 N.
Ironwood Drive, South Bend. Friends may visit with the family at a memorial
gathering on Sunday, November 1 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at the church.
Contributions in memory of Dr. Fink may
be given to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, 5th
Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851, The Center for
Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., 111 Sunnybrook Court, South Bend, IN 46637, or to Little Flower Catholic Church.