Nita Finney, former executive secretary during the early days of ISOMATA (now Idyllwild Arts), died Jan. 30 of a chronic heart condition, according to her son, Brian Finney. Finney was 95 and living in Gig Harbor, Wash., when she died.

Mrs. Finney worked with Max Krone, ISOMATA founder, until he retired in 1967. When she retired shortly later, she was well known for her parties in Idyllwild.

“She gave beautiful parties and served wonderful food. She cared so much about good food and music, she should have been a woman of means at a salon,” said her good friend, Mickey Regal.

Mrs. Finney was a member of the early ISOMATA establishment. Besides the Krones and Regals, she socialized with Bella Lewitzky, the modern dancer, Susan Peterson, renown ceramist, and Dorothy Lewis, sculptor.

Mrs. Finney, coming from England, was introduced to Krone in San Francisco after learning the job in the U.S. which she had been promised was not available. Krone said he might have something that would interest her, her son said.

“She had always been in art and music. That was the perfect job,” Brian said.

"A lot of people thought she devoted her life to the school.”

After retiring from ISOMATA, Mrs. Finney moved first to San Diego before going to Gig Harbor.

“When she went there, she first rented and then lived in the same house the rest of her life,” Brian said. “Despite losing the vast majority of her eyesight, she lived on her own for the rest of her life. She had a will power.”

Independence and love for ISOMATA students will be Mrs. Finney’s gift.

Bruce McMenamin knew her when he was a student at ISOMATA.

“I needed and applied for a scholarship to go to school,” he said. “I thought I had gotten it, too, until years later I learned that Nita had paid for it. She is one of the people who influenced my life while growing up.”