Obituary of James Ronald Quinn
James Ronald Quinn left his Earthly body and journeyed on Home in the hours before the dawn of January 3, 2024. He passed away, according to his wishes, in his beloved house of fifty years, in his bed and with loved ones around him as he transitioned. For those who truly knew his heart, there is no doubt that this born helper now resides in Heaven.
Born May 7, 1932, he was the last-born child to a family of eight surviving children in Bastrop, Louisiana, a small paper mill community. Like most of the men in his family, he worked at the International Paper Company every Summer for many years as he made his plans. He was exceptional from boyhood and his star was bound to rise. He was quarterback of the Springhill High School football team, and president of the student body. He went on to study at Northwestern State College (now University) in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was there that he met his lifelong true love, Genie Mae Shaw. He saw her dancing ballet in a performance at the school, and soon devised ways to “accidentally” bump into her around campus. He found that she worked at the campus bookstore, and it was no small coincidence that since he was a lover of the written word and of all things academic, the bookstore would be the place where he courted her. He joined ROTC and Phi Kappa Nu fraternity in 1951, and once again, held office in the student body. A Member of Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi in subsequent years, he excelled in his studies and earned his BS in Math and Science in 1954. Within two days of graduation, he married Genie on June 6, then worked one final Summer at the paper mill while waiting for Genie to finish her degree.
They happily set off together to begin their career in the US Army from August 1954 to August 1964. They traveled from Texas to Oklahoma and California before setting off for their European Tour. While stationed in Germany, they joyfully brought forth their first born, Eric Shaw Quinn. Several years later, after returning to the US, with his second child, Sarah Jane Quinn, still in infancy, he traveled alone to his station at Osan AFB, Korea. He worked as a Guided Missile Instructor, High Altitude Missile Department, and was promoted to the rank of Captain. He received the Army commendation medal in 1963 and then again in 1964. He loved Army life and serving his country, but while wrapping up his service in Korea, began to hear a calling to serve others on a much more individual basis.
He studied at Perkins Theological Seminary and returned to Northwestern State, earning his M Ed in Counseling and Educational Psychology while working as director of Student Financial Aid. Once he had earned his Masters, he began to embark upon a new career of serving and helping others, of doing all the good he could do on this Earth. He worked as a high school counselor and math teacher for several years, with a goal of eventually educating other helpers, hence beginning his long journey with Counseling Education.
In 1970, after receiving a third child, David Alexander Quinn, he was accepted into the doctoral program at the University of South Carolina where he would earn his PhD. The family moved from Louisiana to South Carolina, leaving behind so many loved ones we have kept in our hearts all this time. He continued to ponder the great mysteries of God, of love and of fulfilling God’s purpose for him as he began to discern what love required. His sense of family expanded to include all, especially those who suffered, and he ministered to them in any way he could, for many years. He focused on equality for minorities and civil rights for all, regardless of sex, race, creed, sexual orientation or political affiliation. His heart went out to the socially and economically disadvantaged, the imprisoned, the poor, the mentally disabled, and as time passed and his community outreach deepened, he developed a special interest in the homeless. He spent the productive years of his retirement working for the Washington Street United Methodist Church Soup Kitchen, spending many hours organizing, managing, gathering and serving meals to the growing number of homeless and needy in our midst.
His many awards and achievements in life are seemingly endless and are invariably connected to helping others. He was an integral part of the elevation from College to University status for South Carolina State University, where he worked for many years as Dean of Graduate Studies and as Professor of Counselor Education. He lobbied for Counselor Licensure in South Carolina, insuring qualified help for those in need. He was a founding member of the SCSU chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, the leading and largest international professional education fraternity. He established the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Center and wrote multi-year successful grants for Minority Research Fellowships, funding and supporting 45 Fellows research degree programs. He was president of the Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools, a Charter Member of the National Alliance for Minorities and Women in Graduate and Professional Education, and held many active memberships in regional, state and national professional education, graduate, research education and counseling associations. He published many journal articles and book chapters and held many honors, too many to list, but his most esteemed achievement was that he loved the Lord, our God, with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind and with all his strength and truly loved his neighbor as himself.
James Ronald Quinn was a man who never sat back, wondering what he could do to help. His feet went to work and took his heart with them. He was a man who made a difference on this Earth and there is obviously quite a lot to be said for that.
He loved his garden. He loved music of all kinds. He loved his neighborhood. He loved the beach and he loved his church. He loved his family above all. He is survived by his loving wife of 69 years, Genie Shaw Quinn, three children, Eric Shaw Quinn of West Hollywood,
CA, Sarah Quinn Jones (Daniel) of Fayetteville, GA, David Alexander Quinn (Angelica) of Columbia, SC, and one wonderful grandson who has been a gift to us all, Marcos Alexander Quinn. He is also survived by one beloved brother, Bruce (Gayle) of Motley, MN, as well as nieces and nephews he always held in his heart. He has gone to rejoin his parents, Rosa May and Alexander Mouton and all his family that have gone before him. We look forward to the day when we will see him once again.
A service will be held on January 27, 2024 at 11:00 a.m at Washington Street United Methodist Church, 1401 Washington Street, Columbia, SC 29201. There will be a birthday celebration for him in May, as well. In lieu of flowers, please consider a charitable donation to the Soup Kitchen there. In his memory, help someone who needs you. If you cannot help, at least do no harm.
The South Carolina Cremation Society is assisting the family. Family and friends may sign the online guest book by clicking on the “Tribute Wall” tab above.
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