Sara Crews Finley

February 6, 1930February 20, 2013

Sara Will Crews Finley, M.D.             Dr. Sara Crews Finley passed away peacefully at home on February 20, 2013.  Born on February 26, 1930, Sara was the daughter of Jessie Mathews Crews and J.B. Crews of Lineville, Alabama.  She graduated from Lineville High School, the University of Alabama and the Medical College of Alabama.  Her postgraduate training included an internship at Lloyd Noland Hospital, a three-year pediatric research fellowship at the Medical College of Alabama and a traineeship at the Institute for Medical Genetics at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.           In 1960, Sara joined the faculty of the Medical College of Alabama, now the UAB School of Medicine.  Two years later, she and her husband, Wayne H. Finley, Ph.D., M.D., co-founded the first medical genetics program in the southeastern United States.  She served as Co-Director of the Laboratory of Medical Genetics at UAB for 30 years and occupied the Wayne H. and Sara Crews Finley Chair in Medical Genetics at the time of her retirement as Professor Emerita in 1996.  Together Sara and Wayne guided the medical genetics research, training and service program at UAB for 35 years, providing genetics services and developing specialized diagnostic laboratories for detectable genetic disorders.  In 2001, UAB honored Sara and Wayne by establishing the Finley-Compass Bank Genetics Conference Center located on the UAB campus.  Sara was devoted to patients and their families who were referred for genetic evaluation and counseling, and she enjoyed her rich professional environment of physicians, staff, students and trainees throughout her career as a faculty physician, teacher and counselor.           Sara served for 20 years on the Admissions Committee of the UAB School of Medicine and authored or co-authored more than 150 papers, abstracts and book chapters in major professional publications.  She was a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Society of Human Genetics, American College of Medical Genetics (Founding Fellow), American Medical Association, and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama.  Sara was the first woman to serve as President of the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association and the Jefferson County Medical Society.  She was also a member of the University of Alabama President’s Cabinet for more than 10 years.           Sara received many awards and honors for her scholarship, contributions to medicine and community service.  Included among many others were: UAB Distinguished Faculty Lecturer; XXXI’s 31 Most Outstanding University of Alabama Alumnae Award; the Distinguished Alumna Award of the University of Alabama National Alumni Association; Martha Myers Role Model Award from the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association; Samuel Buford Word Award of the Medical Association of Alabama; Gardner Award of the Alabama Academy of Science; American Medical Women’s Association/National Library of Medicine Legends Award; Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame; Phi Beta Kappa; National Outstanding Alumna Award of Zeta Tau Alpha women’s fraternity; Birmingham Business Journal Lifetime Achievement Award; 1989 Top 10 Women in Birmingham; Brother Bryan Humanitarian Award of the Women’s Committee of 100 for Birmingham; Will Gaines Holmes Award from the Children’s Aid Society; and the Southern Women’s Committee of 50.           She was the first woman member of The Rotary Club of Birmingham and a member of its Board of Directors.  She served on the Birmingham Board of Directors of Compass Bank, and her community work included service on the Boards of Directors of the United Way of Central Alabama and Girl’s Inc.  She was a longtime member of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday School for more than 30 years.           Sara was a medical genetics pioneer who transcended gender barriers throughout her career.  She assumed many successful roles in a gracious way, but none were more important than those of wife, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin, friend and counselor.  While aware of her many professional and civic activities, those closest to Sara will remember her most for her loyalty, warmth, sense of humor, and devotion to family, church and a wide circle of friends.           She is survived by her devoted husband of more than 60 years, Dr. Wayne H. Finley; a son, Dr. Randall W. Finley, his wife, Amy, and their son, Christopher, of Birmingham; a daughter, Sara J. Finley of Nashville; a sister, Janice Crews Proctor, and her husband, Lister, of Sylacauga; a nephew, John Bradley Proctor, his wife, Anna, their daughter, Frances, and their son, Crews, of Sylacauga; a niece,  Sara Elizabeth Proctor Isbell, her husband, Ben, and their daughters, Emma and Sally, of Birmingham; a brother-in-law, Robert Finley, and his wife, Myra, of Montgomery; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.           A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham, followed by a reception in the fellowship hall at the church.  The family requests no flowers and suggests instead that memorial contributions be made in Sara’s honor to the Finley Chair in Medical Genetics, UAB, 1720 2nd Avenue South, Room 230, Birmingham, AL 35294; the Laura Crandall Brown Ovarian Cancer Foundation, P.O. Box 26791, Birmingham, AL 35260; or the Dawson Memorial Baptist Church Scholarship Fund, 1114 Oxmoor Road, Birmingham, AL 35209.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sara Crews Finley

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Mary A, Taylor

April 30, 2013

Dr. Finley, Was so sorry to hear of your wife's passing. Am so sorry that I did not know the circumstances. We had been missing you at the Birmingham Genealogical Soc. and I am sure I speak for all nenbers, our sincere condolences.

Kelly Wayman Cates

February 26, 2013

I' am sorry sorry to hear about Dr Sara. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. She has always been so sweet and helpful to my parents, Doris and Bill Wayman. I know Doris will miss her so much.

February 26, 2013

My prayers and thoughts go out to Dr. Sara's many friends and her family. Dr. Sara was my "boss" for many years at UAB and she and Dr. Wayne made a lasting impression on me. My sincere condolences especially to Dr. Wayne, Randy and Little Sara. Shirley Gann

Delane O'Rear

February 24, 2013

Wayne, again to you and your family, I extend my love, thoughts and prayers in the passing of such a remarkable woman, physician and friend. While I have been in Wyoming for the past 3 weeks, CaringBridge was such a wonderful way for me to feel in touch. God bless you all, and the treasuries you have in remembering Sara will surely give you strength.

Dwanna Stewart

February 23, 2013

Dr. Sara was an inspiration professionally and personally. I so fondly remember my years in the Medical Genetics program and her kind, composed presence. God bless her and Dr. Wayne for sharing their love for our profession with so many of us throughout the years. As a result, the profession is richer, as are we, having known her.

Frank and Sara Rayburn

February 23, 2013

What a wonderful lady!It was our great joy to know Sara and Wayne and to serve together with them at Dawson Baptist Church for a number of years.Sara made a difference in the world.Wayne,our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Rick Shunnarah

February 23, 2013

My thoughts and prayers are with the Finley family at this time. Dr. Sara was an outstanding lady that always exemplified professionalism and courtesy. She was not only the best faculty person that I encountered, but she helped to set the stage for my life. May she rest in peace.

Nancy Armstrong

February 23, 2013

To Dr. Sara Finley's family, Not only was Dr. Finley a remarkable woman, but she was also a kind, compassionate lady. In the 70's, not long after the death of our infant daughter and two other miscarriages, my husband and I consulted Dr. Finley for genetic testing to determine if something was wrong with us. I will always remember her for being so kind to us during such a difficult time. Dr. Finley was an "angel" here on Earth, and now, she is an "angel" in Heaven. I know that she will be truly missed by many people. May God bless you during this difficult time. -Nancy Armstrong

Ernest Campbell

February 22, 2013

Sara Will was a good friend and classmate. She and Wayne were close friends of Ann and I while in school and shared many pleasant experiences. She was a good person, wife, mother, grandmother and teacher.

My thoughts and prayers go forth to Wayne and the rest of her family -- with assurances that she is no longer suffering and leaves the world a better place for her having passed this way.

Bob Terry

February 22, 2013

Sara taught the first Sunday School class Eleanor and I visited at Dawson. When Eleanor died, Sara invited me to lunch at the Summit Club a couple of times. She and Wayne became good friends who I highly respect. I am grateful for the friendship of both.