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Constance "Connie" A. Finlay

Constance “Connie” Ann Harlow Finlay, 80, of Ithaca, NY, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca.  Born July 8, 1940, in Worcester, MA, she was the daughter of the late George Russell and Katharine (Ball) Harlow.

Connie was a 1958 graduate of West Boylston High School in MA.  She continued her education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, earning her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1962.  Following her undergraduate studies, Connie served in the United States Peace Corps in Nigeria from 1963 to 1965, before returning to graduate school and earning her Master of Arts in Librarianship from the University of Chicago in 1968. 

After completing her education, Connie spent the next three years living in Venice and Rome, Italy.  In 1978, she became employed as a Reference Librarian at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY.  In 1980, Connie accepted a position as a Reference Librarian at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and worked there until 1983, when she moved back to Ithaca and became the Head of Reference at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.  She transferred to Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in 1998 and served as the Head of Public Services until 2003, at which time she returned to Rutgers University where she was the Head of the James B. Carey Library in the School of Management and Labor Relations.  Connie retired in 2006 and spent her remaining years living in Wells, ME, and Ithaca, NY.

Connie had a love for animals and was lucky to have many pets throughout her life, including dogs, cats, fish, and gerbils.  While living in Nigeria, she had a parrot, pet monkey, and bush baby.  She was also an avid bird watcher and loved the ocean and spending time with her family on the beach in Maine.  Connie was fortunate to be able to travel throughout her life and had a passion for adventure travel.  Most recently, she was able to see the animals on safari in Africa in 2018 and traveled to China in 2019 at the age of 79.  Connie was an active member of Love Living at Home in Ithaca and former enthusiastic volunteer at Laudholm Farm in Maine. 

In her career, Connie was known for her love of adapting new technology and was often the first to advocate for and implement emerging technology.  Her career as a labor law librarian reflected her passionate concern for the protection of the rights of others and her desire for a progressive future for her grandchildren.

Connie is survived by her daughters, Caitlin Marie Finlay and husband Peter Bakija, of Ithaca, and Adrianne Virginia Finlay and husband Jeremy Schraffenberger, formerly of Ithaca and presently of Cedar Falls, IA; granddaughters, Virginia Pearl and Hattie Ann Schraffenberger of Cedar Falls, IA; sister, Carolyn Harlow; niece, Kirsten Faucher Harlow; grand-nephew, Connor Harlow; and her former spouse, Robert Finlay.

Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, a private memorial service for immediate family will be held in remembrance of Connie at Lansing Funeral Home, Lansing, NY.  Family and friends are invited to join the services virtually on Saturday, January 23, 2021, beginning at 11:00 a.m. by following this link:  https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/80514369

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Connie’s memory to the SPCA of Tompkins County or the World Wildlife Fund.

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Your girls are amazing; I am so glad to know them. I met you when you'd built a life (solely & fiercely) next to a majestic ocean, easy to laughter, patient, a love for knowledge, books, politics, and travel. I see so much of that in Adrianne. Our children are our best legacy. You did it right.


Rachel Morgan Jan 22 2021 12:00 AM

A kind and gentle soul who was a great help to all of us who frequented the Catherwood Library. Best wishes to the family.

Ron Seeber Jan 22 2021 12:00 AM

Constance was a magical person whose heart was open to all. She was a wonderful part of my family for more then fifty years, always offering care and support. My daughters Deirdre and Rebecca were part of her world as was their mother, and they all laughed and sang together. She will be missed but her memory will always remain, as will her simile and concern for all who knew her and shared life with

David, Deirdre, Rebecca Michael and Cecelia Jan 22 2021 12:00 AM

Constance was my supervisor, or, as she would say, the team leader at the Catherwood Library Reference department. As such, she encouraged me to act independently and to continually learn. I could tackle new challenges knowing that she was there to provide guidance, but also to be interested in what I had uncovered and learned on my own. I suspect that she parented the same way, providing sage advice, but letting her lucky girls make their own discoveries.
Constance was a continual learner herself. She ushered her colleagues into the information age, some of us kicking and screaming. She showed me my first web page; she very presciently insisted that we remain loyal to our Macs even during Apple's dark days in the 1990s; she optimistically ushered us through Y2K. She used a Flowbee to cut her own hair, decades before George Clooney admitted to doing the same.
To her sister, daughters, and other family members, I am very sorry for your loss. Too soon, but in our fond memories forever.

Susan LaCette Jan 22 2021 12:00 AM

Constance was a good friend and a wonderful colleague. We shared a similar sense of humor and a great love of animals. I have many lovely memories of dog walks together and lots of good talks. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to know Constance and to get to know Caitlin and Adrianne, as well. Constance was so proud of her daughters and I always enjoyed seeing what a lovely relationship she had with them. Constance had a strong and independent spirit, a lively imagination, and a deep kindness. What a great loss this is for her family and friends.

Risa Lieberwitz Jan 22 2021 12:00 AM

I worked with Constance for four years (1989 -1993) in the Martin P. Catherwood Library in the ILR School at Cornell. I was a brand new librarian (and a Canadian to boot) in my first professional gig. We stayed in touch after I moved back to Canada, and more recently via Facebook. The famous "pink panthers" were sent by clients after we did some in-depth research for them during contract negotiations. I still have mine to this day! Rest in Peace Constance.

Linda Lowry Jan 21 2021 12:00 AM

Connie volunteered with our Ithaca IndiVISIBLE group and was a stalwart. I loved hearing about her travel and the pride she took in her family. I can't believe she's gone - I'm so sorry.

Karen Chimento Jan 21 2021 12:00 AM

Gary and I knew Connie briefly but enjoyed conversations with her and seeing her smile at Moody Beach. Our prayers go out to the family.

Kathy Nelson Jan 21 2021 12:00 AM

Constance was my Pal and wonderful colleague. I will miss her and cherish my memories of her. I send my heartfelt condolences to her family. Stuart Basefsky

Stuart Basefsky Jan 20 2021 12:00 AM

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Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM