Robert and Barbara Finch of Old Town both died over the weekend after battling COVID-19. Credit: Courtesy of Birmingham Funeral Home

An Old Town couple who both died from COVID-19 over the weekend had just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary, and were both enjoying retirement after many decades working in public education.

Robert Finch, 74, and his wife, Barbara Finch, 70, both died after they battled COVID-19 for about two weeks, according to an obituary published in the Bangor Daily News on Thursday. Barbara Finch died on Friday, Sept. 10; Robert Finch died on Sunday, Sept. 12.

Neither was vaccinated, their son, Matt Finch, told WABI on Wednesday night. They had received advice from a medical professional to not get the shot, he told the TV station.

“I would hope that someone can take the story of my parents as a lesson. These doctors were incredibly compassionate but clearly just frustrated at the sheer amount of non-vaccinated people that are getting sick,” said Matt Finch, who said he had been vaccinated.

Robert Finch worked in Bangor schools for 40 years as a math teacher, first at Union Street Junior High School, and then at James F. Doughty Middle School, where he taught for more than 30 years. Doughty school Principal Edward Hackett said that he was an exemplary teacher, who looked out for all students regardless of their background, and was also a mentor to young teachers. He retired in 2016.

“He was the definition of an educator,” said Hackett, who said he worked with Finch for 30 years, and saw him just days before he went into the hospital when Finch was doing annual training so he could be a substitute teacher in Bangor schools. “He helped them learn math in all sorts of different ways. If one way didn’t work, he’d bring them around in a different way. He really was the total package, when it came to being an educator.”

Barbara Finch worked as a cosmetologist in Bangor-area hair salons for decades, and also worked as an education technician in Milford schools before retiring to spend more time with her family. She and her husband had two children, Matt and Sarah, as well as three grandchildren, Cody, Alexis and Sophie.

Matt Finch said his mother first began experiencing symptoms in late August, and tested positive for COVID-19 not long after. After her oxygen levels dropped, she went to the hospital in an ambulance, where she was immediately put on a ventilator, on which she remained for about two weeks before succumbing to the illness.

Not long after Barbara was hospitalized, Robert Finch also began experiencing symptoms, and also went into the hospital and was put on a ventilator.

Matt Finch said the reality of COVID-19 didn’t truly hit him until his parents became ill.

“This wasn’t real until it hit close to home,” he said.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.