Cover photo for George Louis Findlen's Obituary
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George Louis Findlen

August 3, 1943 — February 2, 2024


George Louis Findlen

George Louis Findlen, 80, of Madison Wisconsin, passed away on February 2, 2024.  George was born on August 4, 1943, in Van Buren, Maine. George was a beloved husband, stepfather, grandfather and friend.

A man of many talents and passions, he found joy in cooking lavish gourmet meals for family and friends, organizing gatherings for “Camp Rutledge,” the neighbors on the block, and tirelessly volunteering his time and energy to advocate for the common good.  His kind and joyful approach to life touched the lives of many, whether he was playing Santa Claus each year at work or creating flaming café brulot on the dinner table at the end of a festive meal.

In addition to his culinary talents, George was an accomplished academic. After obtaining a master’s in literature at Indiana University, he began teaching at Clemson University and Tarkio College. He later completed his Ph.D. in English Education at Ball State University. At Tarkio he wrote a grant to establish a student success program at the college. Administering the grant led to a career change to higher education administration. Throughout his career, George found great satisfaction in mentoring students and faculty members seeking to further their education. He himself never stopped learning, taking great pleasure in attending summer programs in higher education leadership at Harvard and Carnegie-Mellon.  He continuously published articles on teaching, learning, and higher education policy. Following administrative appointments in Minnesota and Louisiana, he retired as Dean of Arts and Science at Western Wisconsin Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. 

In retirement, George channeled his passion for teaching and research into genealogy.  He achieved certification as a professional genealogist from the national Board for the Certification of Genealogists and served as chair of the National Genealogical Society’s education committee. His research and writing focused on the ancestry of French-Acadians in Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, helping descendants understand how the lives of their ancestors shaped their own identities. 

George loved spending his final years in Madison, reveling in the cultural and recreational vitality of the city.  He enjoyed rambling through the annual Arts on the Square, attending Early Music concerts and going to museums.  Weekends often found him hiking, biking, or canoeing. He spent many hours as a volunteer helping patrons at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library.

George is survived by his wife, Rose Ann Findlen; stepdaughter, Sara Wallace; son-in-law, David Lincoln; step-grandson, Raymond Lincoln; son, Patrick Farris; daughter, Kathryn Anne Findlen; and four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his sister, Linda Godfroy, and his parents, George Lewis Findlen II and Irma Martin Findlen Burbank.

 A memorial service to celebrate George’s life will take place at Olbrich Gardens on August 25.  Inurnment will be private, at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison. Those who wish to do so can make contributions in his name to an institution close to George’s heart, the Wisconsin Historical Society Foundation (Library Acquisitions). 

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