A smile that was so genuine and honest that it warmed your heart just
to see him laugh.
That’s the first thought that comes to mind when we think of Quinn.
When you meet him for the first time — before you got to know him —
you might think him a shy techno-guy without much to say. You
see, Quinn wouldn't waste words. Most people, confronted by
silence, tend to fill the time with idle chit-chat. Quinn didn't
speak frivolously. What he said — when he said it — had a point
that was insightful and quite often extremely funny.
Quinn was patient where it counted, but he didn't suffer fools
easily. Whether a rent-a-cop at the statute of liberty, trying to
keep the world safe from Quinn's calculator, or his taking welding and
car repair courses so he wouldn't have to deal with annoying repair
Quinn, at first impression, was a technological wizard with a
systematic mind. In what you might think a
contradiction, he was also actually quite the sensitive artist, whether
his expression flowed through cake decorating, constructing intricate
card art, or creating the most unique but poignant Halloween costumes.
He showed a keen eye and warmth for things of beauty. Whether
upside-down studying a coral reef, studying the birds visiting the
flower boxes on his deck, and of course, Christina. They complete
other in a way which is truly remarkable and a thing of beauty.
Bringing back half a cookie for Christina may not sound like much of a
challenge for most of us, but we know what a sign of devotion it was
I've heard Andy say that everyone was Ken's friend. That’s true.
But he is not just friendly, its really in the way he can connect with
With Ken, it was the way he looked at you during a conversation that
told you that he was genuinely interested in your words and your
It was the clarifying questions he asked, showing that he was truly
interested in getting at the core of what you had to say.
His quest for understanding never ended, permeating his entire life,
but when he was with you, all his attention was focused on you.
When you talked with Ken, whether about rheo-optic analyzers, or the
nuances of Rocky and Bullwinkle, you couldn't help but feel that what
you were discussing was the most important thing in the world.
Anyone who spoke with him for any length of time felt they'd met a
Ken's focus, as well as his drive for fundamental and perfect
understanding, manifested itself in many ways:
He would concentrate on his driving Oscar so intently, it was often
hard to carry on a conversation.
He would design and manufacture scientific instruments which functioned
above and beyond the parameters required, although without much
attention to time schedules.
He continually revised his music compositions, never quite willing to
call them completed works.
He spent endless practice time on the ice for his belated hockey career.
And of course his dedication to pursuing the intrinsic truths of life
while gathered with friends at Dunning McNair's Ale House.
Never were there so many laughs found around a card table playing
Some of you might not know that Ken isn't really Quinn's uncle.
You see back in the early 90's, Ken was the quintessential independent
bachelor, living in a one bedroom apartment with exercise equipment in
the kitchen, an old gym bag in the corner, a few severely neglected
cactuses, and a couple of potatoes and a jar of spaghetti sauce were
Ken is not the parental type.
Then one day his sister Lore calls to tell him that Doug's son Quinn
(who he had only met a couple of times and didn't really know at
all) was coming to town to go to Pitt and hadn't made living
arrangements. And could Ken put him up for a while.
Imagine that you’re a man who valued order and personal space
above all else, and you learn that a 19 year old kid who couldn't
organize a dorm room is coming to live with you. It was
Of course he was in need and Lore had asked so he gave Quinn the
couch. At first, we would needle and
tease Ken about his young charge "cramping his style." But after
few weeks Ken replied that this was a "really cool kid" and that they
got along great. Well Quinn stayed on the couch for about 5 more
months and became a regular at the Shop and all outings.
And ever after he became known as Uncle Ken, and not to just Quinn but
to us all.
Everybody knows that Ken wouldn't dream of offending anyone's political
In his high school yearbook, he wrote,
"All government officials have two ends,
a sitting and a thinking end.
Since their whole success depends upon their seat,
why bother, friends."
He once boasted that he had it all figured out by age eleven.
Ken was an optimist. He was ever-hopeful that if he could just
explain it to you rationally — for you were obviously
misinformed — he could convince you that he was right.
Helping people without question, without expecting to be paid back:
this was part of what it meant to be Quinn and Ken.
Whether working late at the shop, repairing a pond overflow piping,
tearing plaster at friends' homes, helping with moves, fixing friends'
cars, picking up the bill at restaurants with very generous tips,
traveling hundreds of miles to other peoples family functions or
spending hours fixing a friend's computer problems. They did
things without questions, just simply from a desire to help friends and
a desire experience new things.
Quinn is a rugged individualist valuing independence and self-reliance
but at the same time being a faithful and devoted friend always helping
Ken was the center piece of a vast jigsaw puzzle: There are no
straight edges, every side and aspect has interesting curves. In
a world where most people are edge pieces he could connect disparate
and diverse groups of people, bringing them close together as friends.
My friends, we are all part of that picture puzzle amazing for its
breadth and dazzling in its beauty.
Its creators will be missed.
We love you Ken and Quinn. Thank you.
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