Ralph Finneren, an avid bicylist and retired GM pipe fitter of 30 years, was stuck and killed while riding his bike on July 27, 2011 in Orion Township, MI. According to a witness, the motorist slowly drifted to the right, crashing into Finneren from the rear.The driver stated that he never saw the bicycle.
Ralph pursued life with passion and zeal. In addition to biking, Ralph enjoyed a variety of other outdoor activities, including sailing, kayaking and running. He competed in Lake Orion, MI duathlons and was contemplating his first triathalon.
Having received a master’s degree in Chinese history with a minor in African history, Ralph was was a well-read history buff and taught history at Macomb Community College after his retirement from GM.
In addition to playing the banjo, he tinkered with cars, owning one of the first Pontiac Fieros ever built. Many summer weekends were spent with his wife, family and dog Charlie Joe at their cottage in East Tawas. He always put the needs of others first said his son Rory. That is how he, his sister Holli, and mother Judith hope people will remember Finneren.
Rory said his father was easy going and never in a bad mood. In fact, he could not remember even one time when his dad ever got angry. His fun-loving personality rubbed off on his children and others, Rory added. “My dad taught us to pursue the things in life we want to do and not worry so much about what other people think,” Finneren’s son said. “I will never forget that.”
The family placed a white bicycle, a ghost bike, as a memorial along the roadway where Ralph was struck.
Ralph’s wife, Judith Finneren, has been an advocate in the fight against distracted driving and produced a documentary film, Ghostbike, after Ralph’s death: