Faces of Kansas City: KCK man's love of comics inspires him - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: KCK man's love of comics inspires him to reach for the stars

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KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Comic books such as Superman allowed Dr. Harold Finch's imagination to soar as he was growing up in Kansas City, KS. They actually inspired him to reach for the stars.

Stories of superheroes battling villains and pictures of galactic adventure led young Finch to become a serious dreamer.

"My early dreams were largely related to space travel because I read Superman and Captain Marvel and they could go anywhere," the now scientist and entrepreneur said.

But at that time, space travel was pure fantasy and make believe - that is, until 1957, when the Russians rocked Finch's world by launching Sputnik, the world's first satellite. It would be the genesis for the space race and the Cold War.

"It was a very fearful time for most people but, for me, it made me realize maybe my fantasies can become reality," Finch said.

He became obsessed with space travel. In pursuit of his master's degree, Finch wrote his thesis on predicting satellite temperatures. His dogged determination led him to NASA, where he was a project director for America's mission to put a man on the moon - the Apollo program.

"Really, you look back and you wonder, ‘How in the world did we ever do it?'" he said.

Finch also helped solve one of NASA's most perplexing problems with space travel.

"It's either unbearably hot or unbearably cold," he said.

His solution to the problems caused by extreme temperatures in outer space is a Kansas City original.

"To me it just seemed like a practical solution would be to do what we do in BBQ restaurants - put it in a rotisserie and rotate. That's exactly what we did but, instead of rotating a pig, we rotated the whole Apollo," Finch said.

His work with NASA was deemed a success but, in a surprise move, he left the world of science and space to launch a new career and became one of the driving forces to start Johnson County Community College. It is now the largest undergraduate institution of higher learning in Kansas. 

As an entrepreneur, he also founded two separate businesses. Both made the prestigious "Inc 500" list, which recognizes the country's fastest growing companies.

In providing corporate training, Finch and his staff helped nearly a million business professionals in just five years. When he sold his business interests, he became devoted to helping the poor, while creating an army of missionaries.

"So we sent about 1,200 people on two-week trips to do these things literally all over the world, but mostly in Third World countries," Finch said of his missionary work.

He's now the executive producer of the soon to be released movie Unlimited. It's an inspirational movie based loosely on his own life. Actor Fred Thompson plays the role of Finch.

Finch said making the movie was easy, but cutting deals to get into theaters has been the real challenge.

"Just like all the other things I've been involved in, sometimes you just want to quit, but I would never allow myself to quit, so I just hung in there and it looks like it's going to work," he said.

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