Freak Accident Takes Life of Popular Berry Breeder

Sad news came out of the Pacific Northwest fruit research community that longtime plant geneticist and small fruit breeder Chad Finn passed away recently from injuries sustained while body surfing in Hawaii. He was there on vacation with family.

Finn served at the USDA Horticultural Crops Research unit in Corvallis, OR, and developed many of the berry varieties commonly used in the industry throughout the PNW, notes the USDA/Oregon State University Berry Breeding Program.

Chad Finn

In this file photo, geneticist Chad Finn evaluates black raspberry plants for resistance to black raspberry necrosis virus.


Finn was much respected by his peers and was referred to as “Poppa Bear” and/or “Chaddie Bear” by his family. An online journal was set up by the Finn family after the accident to provide updates on his condition. A portion of an entry by son Elliott Finn that was shared by the Northwest Berry Foundation reads as follows: “Sending out love and support to everyone out there as we grieve, reminisce, and celebrate over the coming weeks and months. We love you. Raise a glass of wine or a gin and tonic for Dad tonight. Laugh about your favorite memory of pops, then gather your loved ones close for a bear-hug (try not to break anyone’s rib as Dad once did).”

Please comment below if you have any memories of Chad you’d like to share, or reach out to the family through