Jo and Gene Finton
September 1, 2023

Today we are pleased to cast a spotlight on Jo and the late Eugene (Gene) Finton.  Recently, Jo confirmed a beautiful gift through the LIFE & LEGACY® initiative that will directly support the Holocaust Resource Center’s annual Arts and Writing Contest beginning this spring. This enduring gift is a powerful way to remember Gene and ensure that his story of survival will never be forgotten.

Gene was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. In March of 1939, when he was only 8 years old, Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. His mother, father and younger sister, Karla Wiseman, z”l, fled across the border into Poland. This began a 31-month, 17,000-mile odyssey of escape eastward from the Nazis – a journey which took the family through Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Japan, Hawaii and San Francisco. The family endured scarcity, danger, and uncertainty along the way, but through resourcefulness and good fortune, they survived and were able to settle in Buffalo where a number of family members lived.

Gene graduated from Fosdick Masden Park High School and the UB School of Pharmacy. After working and owning a sequence of independent pharmacies, Gene founded Benson’s Surgical Supply Co, a business he owned and operated for over 50 years. Gene and his first wife, Rolene, z”l, had 3 children. In 1981, Gene married Jo Nasoff-Finton and helped raise her two daughters. Jo was born in New York City and grew up in Cortland, Long Island and Albany. She holds a BA from Vassar College and an MS in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin. She has had a long career in planning and development, including 25+ years with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency where she served as Deputy Director.

Gene was an athlete and an accomplished duplicate bridge player. He sadly passed away a year ago at the age of 91. Gene’s long-standing wish was to support the Jewish Community with a meaningful gift from his estate. The Holocaust Resource Center is so grateful to the Finton family for their generosity and support of its Arts and Writing Contest, which includes entries from students in grades 7-12 from all of WNY.  Jo shares that “Tt is comforting for the family to know that this gift will preserve Gene’s memory and his personal story of escape from the Nazis”.

Jo and Gene Finton - Gene and Jo