By Jason M. Rodriguez
— Strands of the always-parted silver hair bounce off his high cheekbones as Mayor Mike Fincher grins and shakes another hand.
You’ll find him in county and city board rooms and at civic functions, patting the shoulders of Democrats and Republicans alike with his big paws and a “Howzitgoing?”
That grin and larger-than-life handshake has represented Logansport in many places — from Indianapolis to Japan. Love him or hate him, Fincher has a perspective on life that places great value on health, family and helping others, and a realization that being mayor or not is not the end of the world.
Maybe that perspective came after he lost his father at age 8 and was brought up by a mother who was tough, yet loving.
“She taught me how to respect people and how to treat them,” he said.
Fincher rattles off a few names of childhood friends who he’d hang out with in Rockfield in the 1950s, back in a time with no televisions and no video games and back when the crew was too young for jobs. They’d go rabbit hunting, and Fincher was the only one without a gun. He’d help his buddies rattle some brush to get the rabbits going, and once in a while, they’d take turns using the guns. But Fincher wanted his own.
Finally, he approached his mother about getting a gun to go hunting. His mother sat him down and told him a story of two cowboys faced with a choice to get up and do what they needed to do to survive and make things happen on their own. The story stuck with Fincher.
He started shoveling snow, raking leaves and doing what a younger-than-16-year-old boy could do to earn money until he saved enough to buy a Stevens single-barrel shotgun. Fincher still has that shotgun and sometimes takes it out to fire several rounds in an open field — something he does to remind himself of the determination his mother taught him and as a way to clear his mind when times get stressful.
Maybe his perspective on life comes from his heightened religious beliefs.
Fincher has been religious all his life, but he admits his faith has heightened in the last 10 years or so. He believes in the Book of Sirach — a book in the Hebrew Bible about ethics and virtue.
“Its core teaches us that we’re here to help,” Fincher said. “The political divide we have in this small town is absolutely ridiculous. If we do not work together, we will not survive. ... Life’s too short to hate or to be grumpy.”
His perspective on life may also be influenced by the very job of mayor he’s held for the last eight years.
After all, it was he who instituted Coffee with the Mayor at the start of his first term in 2004 as a way to open lines of communication with the community.
“I did it because I want to know what people think,” he said sitting in one of two seats in front of his desk.
He believes conversations should not be had with one sitting behind a desk and another on the opposite side.
“I want to be helpful,” Fincher said. “I want to make sure that this city is in the right frame of mind to move forward.”
It could be that his perspective on life comes from looking at his family’s picture daily and knowing what it’s like to raise a family before any major decisions affecting jobs are made. No matter where the perspective came from, Fincher said his work in Logansport is not done.
“This has been the greatest opportunity I’ve had in my life to help people,” he said. “I love it. I want to do it.”
• Jason M. Rodriguez is news editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.