Marie Finston legacy

Marie Finston and daughter Nina
Nina Finston and her mother Marie Finston.

In 1971, Professor Morton Finston, Professor of Aeronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) arrived at Churchill College with his wife Marie and their two young children Lisa and Nina, then aged 11 and 9.

Morton had been invited to join the College for a term as a Visiting Fellow by the then Master Sir William Hawthorne, and was able to extend his stay in England via a personal sabbatical to enable his two children to complete a full school year.

Memories of the happy times they spent together as a family in the Sheppard Flats during that year prompted Marie to make a legacy gift of £3,375 in support of the College’s Visiting Fellowship fund and the bequest has been warmly received by the College.

Morton met his wife Marie at MIT when she was working at the Instrumentation Lab and she went on to work for Dr Charles Stark Draper, founder of Draper Laboratories following her graduation from Wellesley College. They loved good music – Marie was a classically trained pianist and Morton played the clarinet — and they both enjoyed travelling so they were excited to take up the opportunity of joining the Churchill College community for a year.

The family moved into the Sheppard Flats and quickly settled in to College life. Nina and Lisa vividly recall spending many happy hours on the College fields and in the Chapel and open tennis courts that were there in the 70’s, as well as frequenting the large strawberry patch nearby! They were also able to take advantage of living at the heart of a vibrant international community and made friends with children from Ghana, Nigeria, Spain, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland, many of whom they are still in touch with today.

Morton, for his part, welcomed the opportunity to work and socialise with world renowned scientists and scholars as part of the Churchill community and greatly enjoyed his time at the College, as did Marie who mastered driving ‘on the wrong side’ and took the opportunity to explore Cambridge and the surrounding countryside whenever possible. The family went on frequent excursions and Lisa and Nina recall visits to; the American Cemetery, Ely Cathedral, King’s College, the Backs, Newmarket and a favourite tea shop in Ashley as well as holiday trips to Great Yarmouth and the Cotswolds.

Just over 45 years on and Nina is now a lawyer working as Assistant Director for the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington DC and Lisa, who pursued a career in healthcare, is presently a Corporate Director at Partners HealthCare based in Boston Mass. They both recall their time at Churchill very fondly and Nina is a confirmed Anglophile, having made several walking trips to England in subsequent years, often taking her mother with her to visit Cambridge and the College and this picture shows them together on one of their visits, outside the Sheppard flats.

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