Tammy and David Finch visiting the Ocracoke lighthouse. Photo courtesy of David Finch.
Tammy and David Finch visiting the Ocracoke lighthouse. Photo courtesy of David Finch.

Tammy Marker Finch of Raleigh, died on Friday, March 4.

Born Dec. 26, 1958, in Lodi, Ohio, she was a daughter of Larry and Phyllis Marker.  When she was 10, the family moved to Southern Pines, Moore County,  where she grew up. 

A 1981 graduate of UNC-Wilmington, Tammy earned a bachelor’s degree in special education and upon graduation established and taught a Division TEACCH, self-contained classroom for autistic adolescences in rural Brunswick County.

During her time at UNC-W, she met David Bynum Finch. They were married in 1983.

It was on their honeymoon, that David (lead singer for local favorite band, The Dune Dogs) introduced Tammy to Ocracoke where he had visited as a teenager several times. She fell in love with the island, village and the people.  

On their last night, they ate at the recently opened Back Porch Restaurant and toasted to a dream–that someday they could own a home on Ocracoke, have children and live on Ocracoke in the summers while the kids and Tammy were out of school. They vacationed on Ocracoke every single year since 1983, later joined by daughter, Jessie, and son, Grady, and their two beagles Hank and Willie.

In 1999, the dream came true. They bought a house and moved in every summer with David visiting often as his work allowed.

When asked about why she would want to be so far away and inaccessible for so long, she would remark, “The village and beach are wonderful, but it’s the people that will steal your heart. I have never felt like an outsider on the island.”

Nothing brought Tammy greater joy than to be with the ones she loved, whether it was summers spent on Ocracoke, weekly family dinners or trips out West and to the British Virgin Islands. 

Tammy earned a doctorate in school psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1988.

A lifelong learner, teacher and leader, she had a diverse career working as a psychologist at Dorothea Dix Hospital in the Adolescent Inpatient and Child Outpatient Clinics; as a juvenile court psychologist in Orange and Chatham counties; director of counseling at Saint Mary’s School and Cary Academy Middle School;  a clinical consultant at Haven House, and worked as an ethics instructor for yoga teacher training programs.

Tammy also established a thriving private practice, SkillSense, devoted to life-skills education for children, adolescences, parents and teachers.

Tammy led a spiritual and multi-faceted life–giving, loving, nurturing, and inspiring to all who had the pleasure of knowing her.  She dedicated much of her life to helping others through volunteer work.

At The Raleigh School, Tammy held numerous volunteer positions, including chair and trustee, admission trustee, and parent education trustee. Tammy also served as a guardian ad litem in Wake County, advocating for abused and neglected children. Her passion for helping parents and children led her to her volunteer work for the Nation Charity League, where she provided educational programming for mothers and their adolescent daughters. Tammy’s commitment and interest to the world of education inspired her to volunteer positions within the National Association of Independent Schools, as well as the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

Tammy’s greatest passion in life, her proudest achievement, was her family. As a wife and mother, she was completely devoted to David, Jessie, and Grady. When daughter Jessie married her husband, Ryan, Tammy’s love and devotion extended to her new son-in-law, welcoming him into the family and forming a truly special and unique bond with him.

Tammy loved her family, friends, and beagles, Hank, Willie and Summit, unconditionally, teaching and inspiring each of them to “win the day.”  The closeness, love, respect, and connection that Tammy, David, Jessie, and Grady share with each other is the result of Tammy’s indescribable strength, passion, commitment, and beliefs that love always endures and that her spirit would always be woven into her family’s tapestry, the tapestry of trust and peace. As best said by Tammy herself, “You are safe. You are sacred. You are LOVE.”

In addition to her husband, Tammy is survived by a daughter, Jessie Finch Weaver, wife of Ryan C. Weaver of Raleigh; son, Grady B. Finch of Raleigh; mother, Phyllis Rohrer Marker; sister Mindy, wife of Joe Brandon. 

Tammy is also survived by three nieces and a nephew.

The family thanks the many nurses and doctors at The Duke University School of Medicine and Transitions Life Care who provided their expertise and caring comfort in the last two years.

A Celebration and Remembrance of Tammy’s life will be held today (March 12) at The Raleigh School, 1141 Raleigh School Dr.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Raleigh School, Haven House, or Transitions Life Care.


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