Hansen-Spear Funeral Home – Quincy, Illinois

Truman Finney

Truman Ellis Finney of 1840 Maine StreetQuincy, ILpassed away on June 9th, 2012 at 8:57 a.m. at Blessing Hospital following a short battle with cancer.

Truman was born on October 13th, 1944 to Rosella (Ellis) Finney and Truman Finney. Truman was preceded in death by his parents, a brother-in-law Robert (Bob) Warner of Quincy, IL, A sister Janet Warner ofQuincy,IL and a brother-in-law Ralph (Buddy) Maddox of Chillicothe, IL. Truman is survived by a sister Margie Maddox of Chillicothe, IL, a sister Shirley Jordan of Springfield, IL (Husband Don), a sister Nellie Jones of Quincy, IL (husband James), a brother David Finney of Peoria, IL (wife Catherine) and numerous nephews, nieces, great nephew and nice and great, great nephews and nieces.

Truman attended Quincy Junior High School and was Student Council President. He preformed in the New Faces variety show and he took a jazz dance class from a local dance teacher. At age 15 he left Quincy,IL to begin his formal training as a dancer. Truman was educated at the School of American Ballet in New York City.  After receiving his high school diploma he became a member of the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine until he moved to Germany to join the Stuttgart Ballet and later the Hamburg Ballet.

Truman was an internationally acclaimed ballet teacher, a ballet dancer and former ballet master and director. Truman had been coaching and teaching dancers and companies throughout the world such as the Hamburg Ballet, Royal Ballet,  Paris Opera Ballet, School of American Ballet, Les Ballet de Monte Carlo and many more both as a resident teacher and a guest teacher before he was appointed as Ballet Master of the Royal Danish Ballet in Denmark. In 2010, after 50 years in the ballet world Truman retired. During his retirement he enjoyed traveling, reading, exploring museums, and spending time with his family.

Truman was cremated and will be buried with his parents in the Greenmount Cemetery in Quincy, IL on June 22, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. Friends and Family are invited. Memorials can be made in Truman’s name to the Quincy Medical Group Foundation for medical oncology at1025 Maine Street Quincy,IL 62301.

Hansen-Spear Funeral Directors are in charge of arrangements.


  1. Truman was one of my closest friends in Jr high. We spent hours & hours on the phone & hanging out. I remember listening to records & dancing at his house, I just loved him. He planned a surprise 16th birthday party for me, I’ll never forget him. I love you Truman, I know you are dancing in heaven.

  2. I just realized you were gone, and it was a great shock to me. We haven’t talked in 50 years, but you have always been in my mind and my heart. I remember finger-turns at Stone-Camryn strudios in Chicago, and walking together all over New York, stopping for coffee ice cream, and then walking some more. You would tell me every step you had done in class that day at SAB, and I would fill you in on every step I had done at Ballet Theatre School. I remember dancing with you in the first performance of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company at that wonderful farm. We did a ballet by Virginia together. You were my first boy friend. I will miss you, but you will always be with me.

  3. “Tru”
    Teacher, mentor friend, quiet provocateur. You have humbled and touched so many with your passion for your art. Your wit, artistic and musical sensibilities left a mark on all who you encountered across the oceans. Your dissertation on -“its all about the tendue” continues to resonate with everyone who chose to listen.
    I will always admire your acute vision and ability to turn what you see with relevant specificity to corrections—-“Rowena aka, Queen Bena aka—pull up your hips!”
    A toast to you my dear with a grand Bourdeaux.

  4. Dear Trumman Finney,
    I want to thank you that I meet you. Your deeply dedication and Knowledge for Ballet,
    your incredible humor,- you could see a person who loves what is doing-,trying hard to get the best of you. I will always remember you. your are with us.
    R.I.P (descansa en paz).
    my condolences to the Finney Family.

  5. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Truman and to take his ballet classes at Hartford Ballet. He was a singular gem, and his classes were pure genius.

  6. Truman was my most important teacher at the Hamburg Ballet School. I cherish the years he taught me. Now I am a teacher myself at the Hamburg Ballet School and recently a friend showed me a video of Truman’s exam class in Copenhagen and I realised that my way of teaching is influenced by him. The way he taught me almost 30 years ago. Watching the video made me so happy, everything he gave me, I will give to the next generation.
    Thank you Truman
    My deepest condolences to the family

  7. Rest in peace, dear Truman. We still remember you, when you were living in the Benckendorffstrasse in Stuttgart and left us for Frankfurt and then to Hamburg.
    Thank you for beeing there, we are proud to have you known!

  8. Dear Truman,

    thank you for giving so much to us in the dance world!!!
    You will always be in our hearths and work.
    My deepest condolences to the family!


  10. Truman, inspiring, interesting, enlightening – teacher, coach, friend, human being – came into my life at a very impressionable time; and what an impression he made!
    I will forever be grateful for all he imparted and how he has touched me in countless ways. Forever, I will remember his wit, sensibility, intelligence, and passion. Truman gave so much to so many, and this continues.

    My sincere and warmest condolences go out to his family and dear ones.

  11. Truman,
    Thank for all that you were on stage, in studio and as a friend and mentor.

  12. My deepest sympathy to all of you. Barb e mailed me to tell me about Truman. She is so good to keep me informed of the family. Love and prayers for all, Audrey

  13. My deepest sympathy to all of you dear cousins on Truman’s death. I think of all of you often. your cousin Audrey

  14. Our condolences to the Finney family. We are truly saddened by Truman’s departure; such a loss of someone with such exceptional pedagogic abilities. We will miss him, his keen intelligence and sharp wit which often had us in stitches.

  15. Our condolences to the Finney Family. We are truly saddened by Truman’s departure; such a loss of someone with such wonderful pedagogic abilities. We will miss him, his keen intelligence and sharp wit which often had us in stitches.

  16. Ich denke gerne an die Zeit in Hamburg zurück und sehe Truman noch in in vielen Rollen und wenn er Training gab vor mir. Es macht sehr traurig, dass so viele von uns schon sterben mussten.
    Mein Beileid – Christiane

  17. With Truman’s passing comes a great sense of loss filled with such sadness.
    I am very honored to have worked with him.
    My deepest condolence to the Family & Friends of Truman.

  18. Dear Truman,

    What would we be without!
    You so often spoke about craftsmanship. You did not only taught us how to dance but how, day by day, to construct our lives. You opened our eyes, our heart, you made us listen to the dance and see the music.
    You are in us forever.

  19. Dear Nellie and family,
    Truman’s greatest interest in dancers, was to see them develop their own personality and inspiration, through his work…Thankfull are the ones, like me, that had the chance to meet this great “poète” !
    I am crying with you…
    He stays deeply in my heart

  20. Dear Truman,  Was it 1960 or 61 that we recognized each other on the 104 Broadway bus after ballet class in NY and said hello? Was it 1960 or 61 when we shared our first apartment on 70th Street or was it the one on Avenue A in the East Village?  I know our place on 74th Street was the last before you went to Germany.  I missed you then and miss you now, but somehow you have always returned, again and again and again and you will always be with me.  I walk by certain places in NYC and think of you.   I talk to our many many friends and think of you.   I drive through Hartford and think of you.   We had many many good times, you weren’t always easy to be with, but there was, is, and always will be a place in my heart for you.  John

    Sent from my iPad

  21. My name is Anna Grabka. As ballet dancer I was trained trough Russian Vaganowa Ballet educational system. In 1985 started to work with the Hamburg Ballet. There I met Truman. From the earliest days in Hamburg, I was fascinated by Truman personality and his knowledge. During the trainings, Truman spoke little and always calm. During exercises he circulated in the ballet studio and from time to time, almost whispered, correct dancers. His show was precise. First I tried to just intuitively cope with his requirements, then grasped with full consciousness each correction. Truman changed my view of movement & musicality. Thanks to him I discovered a new way to train my instrument, which is my body. Today I´m a Ballet Master. Truman always remained for me as one of my masters, which I will hard to forget. His knowledge will always accompany me. I´m so thanksfull to meet and learn from Truman. Thank you.
    My deepest condolences to the Family of Truman.

  22. RIP Truman Finney- Nobody ever made me work as hard as you did! I thank you for helping me discover what I was capable of! I love hearing these stories of how you touched so many lives and being reminded of the importance of the connecting steps. It isn’t being there- it’s the getting there that is so important. My heart goes out to all those you have loved and touched.

  23. Truman Finney had a tremendous influence on my life, my career and my future as a young dancer, an honor which I believe I share with countless others!!

    He gave infinitely of himself and his knowledge. His dry humor was incomparable…sometimes rough and even sardonic, but always caring!! As a dancer he was unbridled and passionate and as a teacher he was insightful, precise, untiring and enthusiastic. His dedication to dance and dancers was limitless.

    He taught “up to go down…down to go up” …”the more energy you give, the more you recieve”…”if you want to learn about musicality and phrasing, listen to Monserate Caballe”…”it’s the connecting steps which are important”…

    His minimilistic classicism have influenced dance and dancers world wide! He was selfless and untiring in his dedication to inspiring audiences, fellow dancers and his students. I always will hold him in my heart with love and gratitude for all he gave…and he gave his all!…”it’s all about tendue”…to reach out or stretch…and reach he did…and in his reaching out, he touched all of our lives!

  24. may each of us carry on,for ever,the life example that you gave:the man and the teacher are one.Memories are numerous and remind us daily how much you have been important for so many people and still for a long time.
    Warm thoughts to all his nearest

  25. I played some of Truman’s classes those two years he taught at PNB school, where he fine-tuned my technique at the piano. He had the ear of a true musician, and I can still hear him admonishing me “don’t punch” whenever I get heavy-handed. He was a great teacher of musicians as well as dancers.

  26. Dear Nellie and Finney Family,
    I read in the paper about this amazing Quincyan. Talking with my friend Sue I was mentioning how many people in Quincy have great stories/experiences to tell, though for me, everyone in Quincy appears like normal Midwest folk. When I taught in Saratoga Springs at Skidmore College I made it a point to take in the NYC Ballet at the Performance Center. I even got to eat in the cafe with young ballerinas. To my astonishment, while having lunch at the Coach House I mentioned this story to Rolla who stopped in to say hi! She informed me that he was the brother of yours. I almost fell out of the chair. He was only a month older than me. Everyday is a Blessing. Nellie, Jason and I just wanted to offer our condolences and warmest thoughts. Bob

  27. Nellie,
    I’m sorry to hear of your brother’s death. Keep the faith. Gods blessings to you and your family.

  28. Dear tru
    I carry you with me everywhere I go!
    I admire and relish every moment we shared
    I think of you every day
    Thank you for having touched me
    Love always

  29. Dear Nellie,I am very proud to have been Trumans 1st ballet partner.Iam so sorry for the dance world and your worlds great loss.I remember all the hours in my basement practicing for the new faces. What a great accomplishment he has attained.My sympathy for you and your family…

  30. He was like a professor in english literature, arts and philosophy. Who happened to be teaching dance, as a way of life. And now , without him, nothing will ever be the same again.

  31. Truman Finney was my first partner. We danced together in Der Rosenkavelier. He was an excellent dancer and partner and a wonderful person. I had been told by a doctor that if I didn’t stop dancing I would be in a wheel chair within 6 months. I remember going to rehearsal bawling my eyes out and Truman being so supportive and determined have me dance my best through that rehearsal. I’ll never forget Truman’s support and kindness that day. Thank goodness I didn’t heed that doctor and kept on dancing. We both took classes at Stone-Camryn. I lost track of him when he went to Stuttgart Ballet where fellow Stone-Camryn alum, John Numeier was already a member.

  32. My name is Jessica I am Nellie’s Grandaughter one of Trumans great neices. I just would like to thank everyone for leaving such remarkable comments to my grandma and the family. Its nice to hear all the stories and how he has touched and changed many lives. This has been such a tagedy for our family, and all around the world. He was such an amazing person, and was loved by many. Thank you all again.

  33. Nellie & Family – my heartfelt condolences to you and yours and to all the fabulous people Truman touched in his life. Truman and I took dance lessons from the same glorious lady when we were little and I know she was very instrumental in Truman’s successful career. May God be with all of you at this time. Heaven has acquired a wonderful talent and I’m quite sure he’s dancing for God and the angels.

  34. I did know Truman past the age of 15 when he left Quincy to pursue his dreams. However, I do have very fond memories of tagging my big sister, Sue Sprenger Shepherd and Truman around. They and their friends were much like the “middle schoolers” of the day…talking about the latest, listening to records, hanging out, and spending countless long hours on the telephone. He always was friendly, kind and took time to recognize the pestyn little sister. I just loved being around such a fun and loving friend. I wish I could have known him in later years. It is amazing to read the comments of the many, many peiple whose life he touched. My sincere condolences to the family. May you memories bring you joy.
    Sally Sprenger Kinsell

  35. Truman was such a huge influence in my life. When I first walked into his class as an eighteen year old, I had no idea what an amazing journey that would lead to. Truman was so instrumental in my having a ballet career, by first teaching me how to dance, and then teaching me how to teach. I think the only way I can possibly repay him is by trying to pass along what he taught.

    Truman touched and changed so many people’s lives, he opened doors and broadened outlooks. Truman was a singularly amazing person and will be truly missed by many. To all of Truman’s family- my deepest condolences.

  36. Dear Nellie and Family:
    We are sorry to learn of Truman’s passing. I remember, in the 50’s, you dancing in your house with Truman all the time. I didn’t realize Truman had such a successfull career. Remember & dwell on all the good memories you have of Truman.
    Condolences to all of the Finney family.
    Joe & Francie

  37. Such a loss for a dance world, we used to call him “teacher-magician”.
    Last goodbye from the dancers of Greek National Opera
    Truman will always stay in our hearts, may he rest in peace !

  38. To the Truman Finney Family. We were so sorry to hear of the passing of your
    Brother and Loved One. What an extraordinary, gifted man. Our thoughts and
    prayers are with the family and friends of Truman.

  39. Dear Nellie and Family:
    We are so, so sorry to learn of Truman’s passing. I certainly have fond memories of Truman when we were kids, he was always dancing through the house, he certainly was born to dance. Last year I was so proud to ask our granddaughter’s ballet teacher if he knew Truman, and, of course, he knew him, and, I got to tell him that I was a friend of his family. We are just so sorry.
    With love and sympathy
    Karla & Prim

  40. Nellie, I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your brother, Truman. May God be with you during this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  41. Margie, Nellie and family, we are sorry for the loss of your brother. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  42. Dear Nellie & Finney Family,
    Thinking of you and remembering a very unique and talented man, Truman.
    As ever,
    Pat & Dick Wentura

  43. Dear, Dear Truman,
    My old friend- Thank God for knowing you in this life. You only brought me gifts and joy! Your guidance as a teacher ….though ballett was never going to be for me, made me a better dancer and a stronger human being. I was able to show up and bring my best forward in the ballett and theater that I loved so much. You taught me to hear and dig opera. We had a great deal of fun and shared much beauty. Thank you for your being!! Love always,

  44. To all the Finney family……It was very sad to read of Truman’s passing.(so young) When I was in Jr. HS Julie and I (sister) lived just a couple houses same side of the street East of your home…….My folks: Dorothy and Clayton Hanner…our sincere condolences..I plan to attend any services you might have..Nancy

  45. Nellie,
    I hope you can gather some strength from the knowledge that your brother, Truman, was deeply loved and admired by a host of people, many of them dancers, from all over the world. His relentless quest for simplicity, beauty and truth inspired a great many of us and frightened a few more. His absolutely unique way of approaching his art and his life did the same. Truman was someone one could discuss almost everything with, architecture, writing, music, humanity, ethics. He could be as good a listener as a talker. Mostly, though, he was a thinker and a teacher and very passionate about both. He did not suffer fools easily and yet he could be extraordinarily kind and patient. He had little tolerance for sloppy sentimentality and yet had a very large and sensitive heart. His humor was subtle and dry yet delivered with warmth. A little Truman could go a long way. I feel fortunate to have learned so much from him at both the Hamburg Ballet and The Royal Danish. My sympathy for your loss which is shared by a great great many.

  46. Truman! Are you listening? “Tombe pas de bouree glissade jete off?”,
    as he said gently and stoically to me, quivering a bit, when
    I left Hartford Ballet Company, where we both had entered in the same year, 15 or so years earlier. It was his quip, part fact, part joke, for any exit, or question that might not have an answer. God speed. Ah, what a teacher.
    And passionate about dance. I respect him
    for working in the different channels he did, in the world, with dancers. How I appreciate the eigth note because of him.
    My career is much indebted to him, to Micahel of course, but also to Truman; he truly
    was a trainer. He took any group and made it better. He never gave up on students;
    he believed everyone could excel. The challenge was: excel.
    To all dancers working with him recently: I am sorry for your loss, but he would want you to go on. To the Royal Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Paris Opera, and others, my deepest respect and condolences.

    To all at Hartford Ballet, I know he appreciated our courage, and hard work, our hearts
    and guts on the road. Would he let love into his life? He was a romantic. My deep
    condolences to his family and to all of us, whose lives he so moved, and who loved him.
    Prayers to Nellie and his family,
    Love Kristen Corman

  47. I will always remember the great teacher and person he was.
    All my condolences to the family.

  48. I was fortunate enough to have danced with Truman at the Hamburgishen Staatsoper and had the good fortune of meeting up with him again when he joined the faculty of Pacific NW Ballet School. I will never forget the many conversations we had on “ballet technique” but also on his outlook on life. Truman’s effect on his students is obvious in their dancing and above quotes. I learned much from him and to this day still give your “combos” Truman. I know you are up there saying “get over yourself Emotiana Dramanova & just go teach!” Warmest thoughts to your family Truman, I miss you.

  49. Dear Nellie and Finney Family,
    My first memory of Truman was when, at a very young age, he would arabesque, saute’ , plie’ and entertain us as he went through the house on Oak Street in Quincy. Little did we know at that time how much ballet would be a part of his life. He never received the acknowledgement he so richly deserved from his hometown. Please accept our sincere condolences.
    As ever,
    Pat & Dick

  50. Such a wonderful and inspiring pedagogue. We all carry a part of Truman with us to share with our students. May God be with you.

  51. My name is Caroline Baldwin and I’m an American dancing with the Royal Danish Ballet. I moved to Denmark four years ago when I met Truman, and studied as an apprentice with him. When I met Truman, I knew right away he had a special gift for teaching, and he had welcomed me so dearly when I first came to Denmark. He really changed the way I danced, and helped me understand ballet as movement and art, and really brought such a joy to dancing. Truman has been the most influential person in my life, and he has been the reason I am still dancing in Denmark today. I, as well as all of his other former apprentices here, think about Truman all the time, and there is not one day that goes by without one of us mentioning something he used to say or do. He had such a great sense of humor, and had such a light he gave out everyday. That light has not gone out, and we all know that Truman is with us now, looking over us. Every time we will dance, every class, every rehearsal, and every show, we know he is looking down over us. He often used to talk about the “ballet fairy”, now I believe he is the ballet fairy watching over all his apprentices still dancing in Denmark today, and all of his other dancers around the world. Truman was such a gift and asset to the world of dance, and he will be greatly missed by all. Truman will not be forgotten, and I do not believe he has left us. I know he will always be here, he will be here for all of us who cared for him so dearly. I’m sending all my condolences and love to Truman’s family and to all of his followers and fellow dancers.

  52. I am very happy that I did know him and never forget. I did love him.

  53. Truman was an amazing ballet teacher…he was still performing when he first came to Hartford so i was fortunate to witness that he was an amazing dancer as well..his love and dedication to “the arts” will not be forgotten by MANY around the world…my sincere condolences on his passing…

  54. I deeply mourn my dear friend Truman and send Sincere Sympathy to you.
    I was fortunate to have known Truman, he was a great inspiration and friend.
    I will write to you soon with memories of Truman.
    I am so sorry for your great loss.
    Love, Diane

  55. Mr. Finney was one of the most influential teachers in my life. I’m convinced my life as a professional dancer would be very different if not for him. He will forever be a part of me.

    Thank you Mr. Finney for helping me live out my dream as a ballerina.

  56. It is with great sadness but even greater reverence I offer my condolences to Truman’s family. Truman was a key influence in my life. I credit him with giving me the tools that enabled me to have had the illustrious career I did. Not one day would go by without me thinking of him and of the wisdom he imparted, in his very own unique and wonderfully effective way. Today as I teach, he is still in my thoughts daily and will continue to be. I have not seen him since a few years back in Denmark. I have missed him much over the years and will miss him more now. Thank you Truman, thank you from the depths of my heart.

  57. The world has lost a wonderful teacher, thinker, and ambassador for ballet. He will be greatly missed by those that had the privilege of learning from him.

  58. Truman was a major influence in my life and I have found connections to him and his work around the globe. Those of us who understood him and were inspired by his teaching understand what a HUGE loss this is to the world of ballet.

  59. Dear Nellie,
    I am sad to learn of Truman’s passing. I have the school in Plano, TX which he would come and teach at. Truman was not only a great teacher, but an amazing man. I love him and will always keep him in my heart. I recall how he would speak of you with such love and admiration. I am glad to know you surrounded him with the love and respect he was deserving at the end of his life. My condolences are sent to you at this sad time. With love, Kathy Chamberlain

  60. Nellie I am so sorry to hear of your brother’s death. I know you two were always very close. Take care. Nancy

  61. I am so sad to hear of Truman’s passing. He was an amazing ballet teacher and really helped shape the dancer that I became. Let him rest in peace. The dance world has lost another great mentor and teacher.

  62. Truman,you will stay forever in my mind and my heart,working with you has been one of the most precious gift a dancer can dream of.Not one day had passed without thinking of you.
    Rest in peace

  63. my condolences to the family,
    RIP Truman,
    thank you for everything you thought me,

  64. Truman brought so much to so many. His passion for dance and the knowledge he invested in it are legendary and will be passed on for generations to come. The light he brought upon the dance will make it shine through all those he so generously shared it with.
    Thank you Truman.

  65. To one of the guiding lights to so many. We morn the passing of the teacher who brought understanding, knowledge, sensations, clarity and so much more through his passion and vision of dance. We thank you Truman.
    With love and affection.

  66. Rest in Peace, Maestro.
    You will never be dead for me. You shaped me into something respectable. You whisper in my ear everyday. I see you moving. I hear the snap of your fingers. I hear your voice speaking through my tongue. I feel your vision in my eyes, your ear inside my ears. Feel your dedication throughout every fiber of my muscle, in their particular twitch, “Don’t shake it out,” you would say, “leave it in there.”
    and so it has remained.
    and so shall you.
    and your love.

  67. My husband trained with Truman, and through him, I met Truman while he lived in Miami. He was the most inspirational ballet teacher I ever met- not only did he teach people how to dance, he taught them how to express themselves… he only ever gave his very best.

  68. Dear Truman and family,

    Your passion and commitment to dance will be missed so much.
    Working with you and feeling your generosity was an indredible inspiration.
    Thank you for everything you did for me and dance in general.!
    R. I. P.

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All was extremely professional.  From beginning to end we were treated with much respect.

— R. M.

Thank you everyone for all the help and kindness you have shown me and my family!  May God bless you all!

— L.E.

We served champagne at the visitation and the staff was beyond great with this request! Thanks everyone!!!

— K. B.