Obituary: Finn M. Bullers, 52

Finn Bullers outside Prairie Village city hall in 2014.
Finn Bullers outside Prairie Village city hall in 2014.

Finn M. Bullers, 52, died Jan. 31, 2016, at Providence Medical Center. A service will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village, Kan. A separate ceremony in Iowa this spring will include inurnment and a celebration of his life.

The dedicated father, journalist and disability rights advocate was born Dec. 17, 1963, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to David and Kirsten (Michelson) Bullers. He attended Cedar Falls public schools, excelling in debate, drama and journalism. He graduated from high school one semester early so he could serve as page to then-governor Robert Ray and then headed to Iowa State University in Ames to study journalism.

At ISU, Bullers became editor of The Iowa State Daily, the student newspaper, and he realized he’d found his calling. On the walls of the various homes he occupied while working for the Ames Tribune, The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune, The Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph-Herald and the Quad-City Times was this quote from Finley Peter Dunne: “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” For Finn, journalism was a sacred trust, and he felt no greater triumph than being the voice of the people.

In 1994, Finn married Anne Christiansen, and his dedication to journalism was only surpassed by the dedication to their children. When health issues made him leave The Kansas City Star, where he was a reporter for 15 years, he helped to create a newspaper at his son’s elementary school. He took his daughter to daddy-daughter dances at the school a few years later, where he whipped around the dance floor in his wheelchair.

While at The Kansas City Star, Bullers covered Johnson County government and became a fixture at county commission meetings. He took the role of government watchdog seriously and asked the tough questions, mentoring other young reporters to “get in there” to get the story.

Bullers struggled with juvenile-onset diabetes and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a form of muscular dystrophy that sapped his motor functions. When he left The Star in 2008, he began to advocate for disability rights, especially after he required a ventilator in 2010 and needed full-time nursing care. With long-time caregiver Monique Brown he attended disability rights conferences and lobbied lawmakers in Washington D.C. and Topeka. For his tireless efforts, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association named him Advocate of the Year for 2014.

He his survived by his two children, Christian, 15, and Alora, 11; his stepmother, Alice Bullers, Cedar Falls, Iowa; his brother, Tom Bullers, Baltimore, Md.; as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Memorials may be made to his children’s college fund; Sisters, Servants of Mary (who helped care for him for many years); the Society of Professional Journalists education fund; and/or the National Spinal Cord Injury Association (where Finn served on the board).