By Kasie Von Haden
While walking through campus, it’s difficult not to notice the little white house on Viterbo Drive, just across from the Reinhart Center. Many students pass by this house without knowing who lives there and how they might be connected to Viterbo.
Donald Finn, 86, and Marilyn Finn, 84, who reside in this little white house at 817 Viterbo Drive and have been living there together since 1982, have no direct relation with Viterbo.
Marilyn’s history with the house goes back much further, though. She was born in the house in 1928 and lived there until she was about 20 years old. At that time, she and Donald married at St. Wenceslas Church, which is now San Damiano Chapel, and moved further east on Mississippi Street toward Losey Boulevard.
In 1982, the couple moved back to the home to help take care of Marilyn’s mother, and they have been living there since.
The Finns have seen many changes that have been made to Viterbo’s campus.
“We’ve had quite a lifetime,” Marilyn said. “We’ve witnessed all these changes and the building of beautiful buildings.”
During their time living on campus, the Finns have seen the construction of the Varsity Athletic Center, the Mathy Center, and the Reinhart Center. Though they have enjoyed seeing the changes, additions, and remodeling Viterbo has done, Marilyn mentioned there was one project she wasn’t as thrilled about.
“The parking lot by Reinhart was hard to see because those houses meant a lot to me,” Marilyn said. Because she grew up in the neighborhood, she remembers who lived there and how friendly the neighborhood was.
Because they live on Viterbo’s campus, and just a block from the Recovery Room, one might think they have had their share fare of bad experiences with students or members of the community. But, this isn’t necessarily the case for the Finns.
They have had their garage window broken and eggs thrown at their siding, but these are the only incidents they recall that were negative.
“We haven’t had any problems since they tore down the Wunderbar,” Marilyn said. “It’s calmed down quite a bit since then.” The Wunderbar was a tavern located where the Reinhart Center is now.
The Finns sincerely enjoy living on campus, they said.
“We’re very fortunate to live here,” Marilyn said. “It’s so beautiful and no one bothers us.”
From time to time, too, university employees have helped the Finns.
“It’s convenient here with the snow removal once in a while,” Donald said. Someone from Physical Plant will sometimes remove snow from their sidewalk, or help cut down branches from the trees in their yard. The Finns have also contacted Viterbo security before to inform them of things that had been going on.
The Finns have also taken opportunities to visit different areas of campus as well.
In their younger days, they attended various events in the Fine Arts Center, but haven’t gone recently as much as they used to. The Finns have also attended Mass at San Damiano, and Marilyn still reads Father Tom O’Neil’s homilies. Father Tom served as the university priest until his passing in September of 2009.
Many passers-by consider what might happen with the property once the Finns no longer live there. To address rumors that the couple plans to leave their property to Viterbo, Donald mentioned that they have no such plans.
“We have two children that we’ll leave the house to,” Donald said. “If the situation is right, the kids will deal with it. We just hope it goes right when the time comes.”
Viterbo’s campus life continues to keep their interest and attention throughout their day, as they spend much of their time on their front porch.
“There’s always something to watch,” Marilyn said. “I always wondered why my mother sat on the porch here, and now I know why.”