It was fitting, friends and family said, that Mike Finley was buried on Labor Day.
It seems few have ever gotten so much joy from working so hard in life. Finley, 52, was owner of three Finley's Fun Centers and a variety of other businesses. He was on his way to a national roller-skating convention in Nevada when he died on Comair Flight 5191 on Aug. 27.
Had he been in attendance at his own funeral, more than one speaker yesterday afternoon said, he "would have been handing out flyers on the way out."
"He loved work more than anyone I know," longtime friend Terry Booton of Atlanta told the crowd of about 400 at First Baptist Church of London.
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Finley was a generous but thrifty man, shopping for a business computer for four years before finally finding one that he thought was worth the money, Booton said.
Although friends said Finley was known for being "a player" before marrying his wife and business partner, Christina Finley, in 1983, his pastor at Old Union Holiness Church in London recalled a man who believed deeply in the power of prayer.
Eleven years ago, doctors told the Finley family that their 4-year-old son Ryan had no hope of living. From the hospital, Finley called his pastor and asked that a group of men "meet at the church and pray for Ryan."
"Prayer was given ... and prayer changed things," said the Rev. Bobby Helton, pointing to Ryan among the grieving in the audience. "To God be the glory."'He loved work more than anyone I know'