YARMOUTH — Wladislaw Finne, 95, died peacefully Jan. 10, at his home.
Born May 5, 1919, in Krasnodar, Russia, his family fled the Russian Revolution and ultimately settled in Split, Yugoslavia, where Finne and his sisters spent their childhood. He studied airplane engineering at Belgrade’s Institute of Technology. Changing his focus to art, and avoiding Nazi conscription, he studied in Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg during World War II. After the war, he spent several years working for the Refugee Resettlement Organization, a task which used his extensive languages and logistical skills.
After relocating his family to the United States, Finne himself came to the U.S. in 1950. Through his connections from the RRO, he landed a job at Scott Foresman & Co. in Chicago which gave him his start in book design, a career that ultimately spanned 50 years. While in Chicago, he attended The Chicago Art Institute and the Chicago Institute of Design and in 1954 moved to New York where he became art director for Orion Press, a small general publisher distinguished for its graphic excellence. He broke out on his own several years later and freelanced for such publishers as McGraw Hill, Bernard Geis Associates Inc., where he designed the jacket of the popular “Valley of the Dolls,” Sinauer Press, Harry Abrams Publishing, where he designed Janson’s Art History books, Dial Press and MacMillan, where he met and worked with a young Maurice Sendak. Finne’s books have won awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Printing Industries of America.
A meeting with an editor at Dial Press about a book of Japanese poetry introduced him to Rachael Robinson. He proposed three weeks later. They married in 1964 and in 1970 moved to Maine with their one year old daughter. He continued to freelance in New York and eventually worked for local publishers such as Countryman Press, Heinemann Books and Harpswell Press.
Through all his years as a designer, he continued his passion of landscape painting, sketching, photography and cartoons. Finne was a gracious, generous man who lived simply and with honor. He was passionate about animals of all kinds but primarily dogs. He was fondly known by many in Yarmouth as the “dog walker” because he walked his beloved canine companions three times a day. His last was a white, three-legged dog named Poppy.
He was predeceased by his mother and father; sister, Irene Labounsky; and his wife of 40 years, Rachael.
He is survived by his daughter, Antonina Finne Pelletier; son-in-law, Randy Paul Pelletier; grandchildren, Alexandra, Nikolai and Iliyan; sister, Marina Szejko; niece, Olga Conrad; and nephews, Constantin Szejko and wife, Allyn, and Alexej Szejko.
Visiting hours were held Jan. 12 at Lindquist Funeral Home, Yarmouth. A Russian Orthodox funeral service was celebrated Jan. 13 at St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church, Richmond, with Father Chad Williams presiding. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery, Yarmouth in the spring.
Memorial Contributions may be made to, Maine State SPCA, P.O. Box 10, Windham, ME 04062 or the Animal Refuge League, P.O. Box 336, Westbrook, ME 04098.