Vale Frank Finlayson, a “legend of the industry”

By Patrick Avenell

Current.com.au and Appliance Retailer Magazine are saddened to report the death of Francis Wilfred (Frank) Finlayson, who died on Sunday 22 June 2008.

Frank was a veteran of the appliance retailing industry, working for nearly 50 years in the family-owned Harvey Norman store at Moss Vale, in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. This store first operated as Finlaysons, before undergoing several name changes, including Finlayson’s Betta Electrical and Harvey Norman Moss Vale. Frank Finlayson marked the third generation of his family to work at the store, which opened in 1908.

The middle of three brothers, Finlayson was born in Moss Vale in 1926. While stationed in Charters Towers during the War, Finlayson met Edna May Cook, who he would marry in 1947. Together they lived briefly in Sydney before settling in Moss Vale to raise their seven children.

Finlayson’s two great passions, outside of his business and close family, were gardening and golf. His daughter Elizabeth Sullivan spoke recently of this. “At one stage we had a huge vegetable garden down the backyard with potatoes, pumpkin, peas, beans, corn, tomatoes and rhubarb. If we behaved, he would let us walk behind the hoe with him and pretend that we were helping,” said Sullivan.

Within the industry, Finlayson was regarded as being ‘old school’, and a gentleman. Sullivan recalled how when she and her brother, Paul, began working at the store, their father instructed them on proper business ethics and always ensured that “they had done the right thing by the customer”.

After retiring in 1994, Finlayson maintained an interest in the store through his children. Although Sullivan and Paul Finlayson made the eventual decision to move to Harvey Norman, this was made with Frank Finlayson’s blessing. Sullivan recalls that, at the time, her father said, “you’d be crazy not to,” when consulted over the move.

Frank Finlayson is survived by his wife, their 7 children, 16 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. A requiem mass will be held at St Paul’s Catholic Church, Moss Vale, at 11am on Thursday 26 June 2008.

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