From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Finn, Thilbert L.

(born: March 17, 1930  -  died: November 5, 2015) Thilbert L. Finn lived in Beaver Dam, KY. When he was a high school student, he commuted each day to Western High School in Owensboro, KY. There was not a high school for African Americans in Beaver Dam. During his senior year in 1950, Finn became the first African American to win the Kiwanis Club Essay Contest for Daviess County, KY. Finn's essay had been judged the best among the hundreds of essays submitted by students from all high schools in the county. The essay contest was an annual event in the interest of "citizenship consciousness among students and to combat the rise of communism in the United States." --Source: "Beaver Dam Negro 1st of race to win coveted essay award," The Courier-Journal, 04/29/1950, p.8.

The Kiwanis International was organized in Detroit, MI on January 23, 1915. The Owensboro Kiwanis Club received its charter on February 5, 1940. Ten years later when Thilbert Finn won his award, Walter Sergent was president of the Owensboro Kiwanis and he was in charge of the Essay Contest. Finn received the championship cup and an all-expense-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C. Thilbert L. Finn and H. E. Goodloe, principal of Western High School, took the trip to Washington, D.C.

Thilbert L. Finn would remain in Ohio County, KY, where he was employed at the Peabody Coal Company. He was a member of the United Mine Workers. Finn was also a veteran of the Korean War. Thilbert L. Finn was born in Beaver Dam, KY, the son of Mord and Mary Ann Fant Finn. He was the husband of Loretta Jean Schultz Finn.  

Sources: "[Picture caption] "Essay Contest Winner," The Owensboro Inquirer, 01/17/1950, p.3; "Obituaries: Thilbert L. Finn," Messenger-Inquirer, 11/10/2015, p.C2; "Kiwanis Club to be given charter on Monday night," The Owensboro Inquirer, 02/01/1940, front page.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Ohio County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Beaver Dam, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Ohio County, KY
NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Daviess County, KY
NKAA Source: Courier-Journal [Louisville] (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Owensboro messenger-inquirer (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Finn, Thilbert L.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 2, 2023,

Last modified: 2022-05-31 20:41:08