Posted by on September 25, 2011

It is with great sadness that we share that our dear friend David Finley, lighting designer with Disson Skating, passed away on September 22 in Chicago, Illinois after a long illness. Always known for his courageous spirit and creativity, he was an inspiration to those who had the privilege to work alongside him and call him friend.

David Finley

David Finley

In addition to working as lighting designer for Disson Skating, David was resident lighting designer for Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre. He was the lighting director for the Martha Graham Dance Company (1986-1992), Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular, Katarina Witt Divas on Ice and Stars on Ice. He received a Daytime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Lighting Direction (2001-2002). He recently completed the lighting and design for the Tony Awards Preview Concert for CBS.

“David has been an integral member of the Disson Skating family for over 15 years. His passion and commitment to excellence on our shows was an inspiration us all. He will be greatly missed,” said Stephen Disson, president of Disson Skating. “We know he will live on through all those who had the honor to know David. His spirit will always be part of our shows.” Disson continued, “We will dedicate our 2011/2012 Pandora NBC Skating Series shows to David! His shining light will inspire us forever! “

Lea Ann Miller, long time friend and artistic director Disson Skating asks of all the skaters who knew David “to skate with a light shining from your heart in honor of David Finley.”

Rest in peace, David. Free from all pain, you are in the light now and we will all miss you.

God saw you getting tired
when a cure was not to be
He gently closed your eyes
and whispered come with me
You didn’t deserve what you
you went through and so
he gave you rest
God`s garden must be
beautiful for he only takes
the best
Writer Unknown

If you would like to share your remembrances of David, we plan to combine them in a booklet and give it his family – it will be nice for them to see how much he was admired and appreciated.

Lynn Plage

About the Poster: With over 20 years of experience as an event publicity coordinator, Lynn Plage is a well known PR force in the skating world.10 Winter Olympics. She handles National Public Relations efforts for Disson Skating and can be contacted at

20 responses to “IN MEMORIUM – DAVID FINLEY”

  1. Mark finley says:

    This means the world to Gary anf family. Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart – Mark Finley

  2. Lynn Plage says:

    I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with David throughout my pro career, in shows like Stars on Ice, Disson events, and the Go Figure Tour, as well as competitions. I breathed relief when I saw David on the roster because not only was he brilliant at his job (creative, smart, innovative) he cared about us and wanted us to feel comfortable on the ice. As a skater it’s easy to get “lost in the lights,” and David was able to create an incredible atmosphere and empowered us to perform better because of it. My constant picture of him is sitting at the lighting board through the night getting ready for a show. There was never enough time to get it done,but even though he was often weakened by illness he would press through the night to make the magic happen. I can picture him alone in the arena, with no light on him but the one that shown on his board, setting and calibrating lights, making sure “specials” were where they were supposed to be, that colors and effects were varied and interesting and artistic. He could take the smallest lighting budget and make it fantastic anyway. His direction of the spot ops was also a way he showed love to the skaters, generously guiding the folks in each city and instilling on them respect for our craft (and his).

    My second picture is more personal. He had a wonderful laugh and a quick wit. In catering before the show I loved sitting at his table because conversations were interesting and we always had something to laugh about. He cared about the loved ones in his life, which was apparent when his partner and their dog visited the show. We often said stars on ice was like a family, a big, dysfunctional family, and I sense the loss of someone close today, even though I haven’t seen David in a year. He added to life for all of us, and will always be for me an incredible example of caring, work ethic and perseverance. Whenever I saw David for the first time after a long summer break, he would greet me with a warm smile and a hug, “great to see you Paul.” I think I will miss that the most.

    Thanks David for the years and years of great work and for your warm and willing involvement in our lives. It was always clear to me that this was more than a job to you. You really cared, and what could be more important?


    Paul Wylie

    • Kitt Finley-Parker says:

      Dear Paul,
      Thank you so much for your kind words about my brother David. We came to see you skate in Richmond when David was also with the show when my daughter was about 3 or 4. She is now 16. David spoke of you often and also thought of you as a special person. We buried him yesterday and the void that I feel is immense! I cannot tell you how much your words give me comfort, knowing how much he mattered and was appreciated by those he dedicated his life and his craft to. Thank you on behalf of all his brother band sisters and from his mother.
      Sincerely, Kitt Finley-Parker

  3. I knew David through his sister, Kitt, a dear, dear friend of mine who spoke of him often and lovingly. She was so proud of him. It is so wonderful to read about his artistic talent from those who were blessed enough to experience it. I pray for all of you who have lost a dear friend and I pray deepest for his family and his sister, Kitt, whose brother is probably working with God’s lights now…the stars! May God bless all of you.

  4. Meg Streeter Lauck says:

    I have such a heavy heart hearing that David has passed on. I was so lucky to be able to work as a TV director with David for many of the early years on the Disson shows. It was all new and exciting and David was the one who created the magic. It was as if he took sparkle dust and sprinkled it over the rink and everything had a glow and the vibrant colors were the perfect backdrop for every performance. He understood what the skaters needed to skate their best (no spots in the eyes while jumping!) and then created a cocoon of color for them to shine.
    As a director I loved being on David’s shows because I knew that even with limited time he would always be able to create the level of artistry in his lighting to match the highest level of artistry in the skating, the choreography and the music. Sometimes when I took a shot I would be astounded at the pure beauty of it.
    I remember one time when Yuka Sato was skating in “Scott Hamilton and Friends” and David lit it so that we could see the reflection of Yuka spinning in the buffed shine of the piano. I remember the staccato lighting in Paul Wylie’s JFK – riveting. I remeber stunning sets that shimmered and swirls of patterns on the ice that danced as the jib swooped up and in to the skater and the drama that the sets and the lighting added to the movement. I remember cones of light from a distance and a skater spinning, alone in her own world. I remember tight shots the skaters at the beginning and end of their programs, with a halo of light and color surrounding them. I remember how he was able to highlight every skater in group numbers that were a huge challenge to light, but somehow he was able to do it and make them “sing”.
    Most of all I remmeber that tingling feeling of anticipation, awaiting what would unfold from David’s lighting board as the opening announcements were made and then “the lights came up” and the skaters entered David’s luminous arena.
    Thank you, David. You were so courageous through taxing illness, dedicated to skating and to the skaters, disciplined beyond belief to work through any obstacle, and at all times a true artist with a palette of moving colors that transformed the ice and the air. You made us all look good…and you did it with a big heart. You were a joy to work with, especially with your irreverent humor during the times when we thought what lay ahead was impossible. Your support during those moments often got me through. You were a kindred spirit and I treasure the time we had. With your passing, the lights have truly been extinguished. May you be free of pain and rest in your own light and may your family and friends know that you meant the world to us.
    with gratitude,
    Meg Streeter Lauck

  5. Doug Zeghibe says:

    I met David in 1995, when producing my first ice show, A Skating Romance. I didn’t know nothing about anything! But I was told to call David and secure his involvement before anything else. And so I did. And how fortunate I was.

    David took me under his wing and so generously shared what he knew, and showed me the ins and outs of what this theatrical skating business was all about. Right up until our last production together, last year’s All That Skate LA, David, and the equally amazing Todd Randall, never stopped delivering the most beautiful and well-staged events. (What a partnership!!) When David promised you “eye candy” for your show, you got it. He was the candy man that always delivered.

    And David always, always had your back! On one show on which we worked, the director was insistent that we stage a working fountain on the ice as part of one number. (I had been told to picture the Trevi fountain in Rome. But portable.) Really?! The problem was that the show was touring to multiple cities, it barely had a budget for one city, and there was no practical way to transport such a thing even if we could find or build it. But that meant nothing to the director. For weeks all I heard was “ZE fountain! I must have ze fountain! There can be no show without ze fountain! Bring me ze fountain!” What to do?! When I finally smartened up and brought the problem to David, he figured it out pronto. Told me not to worry about it, and that he could work it with the lighting. Huh? Are you serious? Trust me he said. With his lighting magic, the sounds of water trickling and two very inexpensive plaster balustrades covered in plastic ivy, David created on the ice the portable, inexpensive sensation of a classic Italian fountain. It captured the imagination, worked perfectly in the show and proved the axiom that less really is more. The director was ecstatic! I was relieved. And for David, it was all in a day’s work.

    Thank you David for your brilliance, for your friendship, for your amazing warmth, for always being there, and for a generosity of time and spirit that I have rarely experienced elsewhere. The legacy of your work will live on in the many DVD’s and tapes of your countless productions, while the legacy of your friendship and life will live on in our hearts. I feel your loss, but am overcome with gratitude. I love you, man!

  6. Kurt says:

    As skaters we are often selfish and only worry about ourselves, our craft, our axel or whatever it may be that we have to deal with out on the ice. It truly takes years to realize that you are not the only one out there and that so many minds, hearts and hands have, behind your back usually, helped you on your path and during your glide and even during that scary axel. Yes we think of our parents or our coaches, but to perform in the beautiful light is where skating heaven is. Eventually, we get it, and we the skaters realize the team that goes into each and every skating memory we put out there. So a tip of one of my many hats goes to my friend and skating’s friend David who with his genius gave me my glide, my mojo and my joy out on the ice. You will be missed on and off the slippery surface.
    Kurt Browning

  7. Mike Kracik says:

    I first met David in my parents kitchen back in 1981. He has never left my life. He has been a perfect “brother”, friend, mentor and God Parent to my son. You will never be forgotten but you will always be cherished. God Bless you and your family. Say hello for me please.

    Not to worry David, Mykal will make you proud.

    Mike, Trish and Mykal Kracik

  8. Maggie da Silva says:

    Sorry to hear this sad news. Condolences to David’s family.

  9. Trish Kracik says:

    I have known David since 1989 when I married into the family. He has always been and will continue to be very special to me.

    David, you will be missed greatly! All my Love!


  10. I met David at my good friend Kitt”s house. Kitt is Davids sister. We sat on Kitt”S porch and just had the best conversation. I would also see him over the holidays with his family at Kitt”s house. He was such a nice person and I feel blessed to have met him. All my love goes out to his mother and his brothers and sisters.

  11. Alyssa Shane says:

    I worked with David on Disson Skating’s shows for the last 8 years. I was always glad when David chose to fly using Newark Airport, versus LGA or JFK because it meant I could maneuver us onto the same flights and that we would actually have a chance to talk…whether it was about family stories, animals, the Catskills…it was rarely ever about work. I look back fondly on those conversations, as I do on the last conversation we had where he sat up front with me just days ago.

    David, you will be missed and thought of frequently, but I know that your memory will live on in all of those you touched.

  12. Yvonne Gomez says:

    I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with David when I was still performing as a skater in Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt’s Skating show, and for the last 14 years directing Disson skating specials. He exuded such confidence that it made me confident. His passion for his art was and continues to be an inspiration to me. I will never forget how the lights in the TV truck went crazy (off and on) the day David left us. I know he was telling us all that day that he was still watching and saying “Gogo go high at this time, I have a great effect on the ice”:)
    David -I know you are in a beautiful place now that is always perfectly lit. The perfect place for someone as beautiful as you.
    I love you – I miss you.
    Yvonne “Gogo” Gomez

  13. Linda Leaver says:

    I first met David on the Boitano Witt Tour in 1990. Since then it has been 21 wonderful years knowing him. David had a rare combination of creativity and practicality, and a strong work ethic making him “The Best” in his craft
    And more personally, David extended his friendship, a light with which he lit not only the ice but all our lives.

  14. Gladyz Szpary says:

    David Finley was the nicest man, and gifted with such incredible talent!

    His name is mentioned each time I take friends and family through The Breakers in Newport, RI. I eagerly share all that we accomplished in lighting the interior. Of all the many projects in which I’ve been involved with The Breakers, that is still my very favorite. David made all the wonderful art and wall carvings come alive. From when it was built in 1895 to the 1990’s, the house was not normally lived in during the winter months. But now, in the deepest darkest winter nights, the house comes alive to brighten everyone’s spirits.

    David was a genius. He was also a very special human being.

    I am very sad.

  15. Jozef Sabovcik says:

    David was the best! If he was lighting my numbers I never had to worry about anything. He would take all of my silly ideas and suggestions and make them look amazing, no matter what music I gave him. I will miss telling him that this is one of my “fly-outs” numbers, which meant that at one point during my program he would take the lights off me and lights the audience, which in turn made them go crazy, while I stood in the middle of the ice doing nothing. How brilliant is that? He always made me look better than I deserved to.
    I will miss him.

    Jozef (Jumpin’ Joe) Sabovcik

  16. Jef Billings says:

    When working as a costume designer, my success is often in the hands of the lighting designer. All the hard work and time spent trying to make the skaters look their best can be changed in a second if the lighting is not right. What I loved about David, in the many times we shared our ideas and even in the toughest of situations (time constraints, late hours, last minute changes) his work was always the best It always added to the event. In a world of big egos (mine among them) his never showed up…He just wanted it all to be perfect and wanted to make EVERYONE look GOOD! He sure made me look good.

    I’ll miss his his fearless work ethic, his integrity, and his friendship!

    Remember David, In the end, it’s all about the “yellow light” !

    Jef Billings

  17. lea Ann Miller says:

    where do I start. David was my inspiration. I didn’t know how I would go on until I went to the Catskills and met all the family, Gary’s included, and said good bye. His Life is the inspiration and here is some of what I learned just yesterday……David’s favorite color was yellow. He was buried in the perfect shade of yellow shirt. The casket flowers were yellow, thanks Diffa friends. Oh he liked Green too, and I always fought him on that color for the ice….he got me back and painted his country house Kitchen BRIGHT green. (He was so sad to hear we were not doing a Halloween show again!!)
    Here is a good one for you Golfers (Scott Hamilton, Todd E…) David was good! He loved Golf and played like a pro.
    his patience and calm personality perfect for the game of golf. I’m Sure he is playing in heaven. Speaking of Heaven, next important fact, David was a believer. Catholic, very private in his practice, but had a strong spiritual guidance that got him through all his tough times. Officiating at the service were Bishop Franc Betancourt and Dante Tarantini, who also married David and Gary in the same church. They are so cool! Loved them, and know how important they were in David’s life. OK, now his family…brothers and sisters you are David. The Love you all showed each other, Davids friends, Gary….did I expect anything less from ones around David?, no, but you all are beyond special. Alicia, Kit, Scott, Mark, you all told stories with love laughter, pain and happieness all at the same time. Really, I was crying and laughing out loud. Kit told us David was a picky eater, Bacon, peanut butter, Ham sandwiches and of course Pepsi….we all kind of knew all that, but the punch line of ” I am sorry for the time Alicia and I stuffed spinach in your mouth and you threw up and mom made you clean it up…that was not kind”, brought the needed reality and belly laughter we needed. Gary read a poem, he wrote for David, something they often did for each other…simply called “I Love You”. Perfect.
    I’m jumping around but two more musical notes. Todd and I got lost getting to the church, we were two minutes late and Gary was thinking were are they?? The first hymn started and it was wrong, they stopped, found the right one, Todd and and walked in and Gary said reskate!! The Finale song was David’s choice. “I’ll be seeing you”. I couldn’t help but think of how many times we watched Renee and Gorsha skate to that, and David always had a tear in his eye.
    Last I want to say something about Todd. He was his rock. Down to the last hours, Todd was there. We should all be so lucky to have a friend like that.
    My inspiration is stronger than ever, I look forward to each and every show I do with David by my side,
    Lea Ann

  18. Mark London says:

    I was a classmate of David’s in college and he was the same joyous, creative designer then as we saw throughout his carrer. It was great to work with David and also to be able to spend time with David and Bob. No matter how long it was between contacts it always felt as upbeat and positive as ever on the rare occassions we were able to cross paths. So sad to hear of his passing.

  19. Dave Carr says:

    I first met David working for morphemes as one of his lighting techs. From the first moment David made me feel welcome as he took interest in me and the building of my career. I looked forward to rejoining the lighting crew every year and watching every cue and every number intently as I was able to learn from a master. He gave me the chance to sit between him and Mike and help to help program program the shows. You sir taught me so much more then to paint with light, but to also enjoy the simple things.

    David, thank you for investing in me. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for inspiring!

    You sir will be missed greatly
    Dave Carr

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