Former Mass. House speaker Robert Quinn dies; helped create UMass
BOSTON (AP) -- Robert Quinn, the former state attorney general and Massachusetts House speaker, who helped create the University of Massachusetts and toughen environmental protections in the state, has died. He was 85.
Quinn died after collapsing early Sunday morning at his Falmouth home and being rushed to a nearby hospital, his law partner James Morris confirmed.
Morris said Quinn had recently moved back into the two-family home where he was raised in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood.
"That's where he was most at home," Morris said. "He was thrilled to be there, he was in heaven."
Quinn served in the state House of Representatives from 1957 until 1969, the last two years as speaker. His gave his name to the Quinn Bill, which gives police with college degrees higher pay.
He was attorney general from 1970 until 1974, when he lost in the Democratic primary for governor to Michael Dukakis.
Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn called Quinn a "political leader of intelligence and integrity ... remembered for his decency and commitment to fairness and rule of the law."
Quinn also helped found the University of Massachusetts-Boston and served as chairman of the University of Massachusetts board of trustees.
UMass-Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley said Quinn opened the doors of urban public higher education to city residents.
"We will miss Bob dearly, but we are gratified that he was able to see the university he helped found mark its 50th anniversary this year," Motley said in a statement.
Quinn was ridiculed at the time for wanting to build a university campus on the site of a former dump, but he pushed ahead anyway, Morris said.
As attorney general, Quinn led a multistate challenge to the federal government's ability to drill for offshore oil, created the state's first Environmental Protection Division, and established the New England Organized Crime Intelligence System.
"We will miss his vision and leadership, and I will miss his friendship and sound advice," Attorney General Martha Coakley said.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo described Quinn as "a gentleman who treated people with kindness and respect."
"As a former House Speaker, he possessed a special love for the House of Representatives," DeLeo said. "He served as an invaluable source of institutional knowledge and advice and was a person I could count on."
Quinn, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1955 after attending Boston College, also served on the board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.
The Quinn Bill, first passed by the state Legislature in 1970, calls for participating municipalities to give salary increases of 10 percent to 25 percent to police officers who obtain associate degrees, bachelor's degrees or master's degrees in criminal justice.
Morris, who formed the law firm he ran with Quinn in 1979 "on a handshake," said Quinn had an early brush with death when was attending Boston College. He said he fell ill one day, was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and spent the next two years fighting off the disease and recovering at the old Boston Sanatorium.
Morris said that experience helped color Quinn's outlook on life, his ability to befriend people of all walks of life and his loyalty to friends and family.
"Here's a man I've known intimately for 40 year. Here's a person who's 100 percent dedicated to his family, to his religion and to his friends," Morris said.