Emil Sherer Finley
Time of Service:
12:30pm, Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Place of Service:
Riverside Memorial Chapel
Emil, our patriarch, died peacefully at 96 after a series of illnesses. He was a resident of White Plains, New York and Boca Raton, Florida. He was a loving husband to Eve, his wife of 71 years, a proud father to his sons David, Robert and John (and their wives, Debbie, Sandi and Carol), kindly grandfather to Adam, Katie, Paul, Max, Rebecca, Sarah and Ethan and indulgent great-grandfather to Camryn. He inspired family, friends and business colleagues with his powerful will, high standards and impeccable integrity. Emil was founder and a former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of International Commodities Export Corporation, one of the nation's leading chemical fertilizer exporters in post-war America and still a thriving global business. He began his career in 1946 as a clerk with International Commodities Corporation, while completing his education at Columbia University in the evenings. His hard work, vision and business talents built that business into ICEC, where he spent his entire career, becoming its Chief Executive Officer in 1967 and serving there until his retirement as Chairman in 1993. During his tenure, ICEC, with agents across the globe, developed rapidly in response to his vision for American exports following World War II. It was twice honored with the E Award, a program revived by President Kennedy, for organizations that contribute significantly to increasing United States exports. Emil, affectionately known as Mil, was born in Krakow, Poland on January 15, 1921. In his late teens, he immigrated to England both out of his love of Anglo-Saxon culture and a fear for the future with Nazi rule in Germany. While attending the University of London in 1939, he interrupted his studies at the outbreak of World War II to enlist in the British Army. He served with the British Army during the Battle of France and was evacuated near Dunkirk. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Air Force as part of a new wave of navigators that were trained to make night bombing feasible because of the ability to pin- point targets. Upon graduation from navigation school in Canada, he turned down an invitation to remain in Canada as an instructor, much to the relief of the student next in line for the position. His RAF squadron participated in bombing missions in Germany and occupied France, including two missions during the Allied invasion of Normandy. After D-day, his unit was transferred to Brindisi, Italy where he participated in special missions related to partisan activity behind enemy lines in Northern Italy and Eastern Europe. Upon attaining 30 missions he was entitled to a discharge, but re- enlisted and ultimately flew 55 missions, earning a cascade of decorations, including the distinguished flying medal with two bars (Cross of Valor). With the intercession of the Queen Mother, following the end of the war he was able to expedite his immigration to the United States and reunite with Eve in Scarsdale, New York where they married and settled. In addition to his leadership of ICEC, he held diverse business interests including an equal partnership in Mark Cross that he held during the 1960's and 1970's with his brothers-in- law, George and Edward Wasserberger. Emil was dedicated to his business but was additionally an accomplished skier, golfer and pianist. He was also an award winning amateur photographer and participated in numerous exhibitions. In addition, Emil taught business courses at and was a trustee of Marymount College, which conferred upon him an honorary degree and served as President of the Westchester Business Council. Emil's combat service in World War II and his participation in the expansion of America's trade in the post-war world personified the "greatest generation." In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations should be made to Dorot or Disabled American Veterans (or a charity of the donor's choice). The family has expressed the wish that the burial service be private.