In memoriam: Richert E. Quinn Jr., MD
April 18, 1941 - Jan. 11, 2017
by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator
Richert E. Quinn Jr., MD, passed away Jan. 11, 2017 at the age of 75. Quinn was a loving husband, father and grandfather; a respected general surgeon in Greeley who was instrumental in establishing and then leading the burn unit at the Weld County Hospital; a leader in the American Medical Association, Colorado Medical Society, Weld County Medical Society and Northern Colorado Medical Society; and a visionary who helped establish COPIC and contribute to its tremendous success.
“Dr. Richert Quinn really believed in and embodied that we were part of a profession,” said Alan Lembitz, MD, COPIC’s chief medical officer, who got to know Quinn as a resident physician. “He taught that we had a special role and responsibility to our patients, but he also led by example that we as physicians had a duty to each other to make this profession of medicine better. Rich worked tirelessly in the ‘house of medicine,’ but also was just as dedicated one on one in what today we call mentoring.”
“Never at a loss for words, nor short of an opinion, Rich got things done sometimes by sheer force of will,” Lembitz continued. “I enjoyed his big heart, his self-deprecating sense of humor and his devotion to others. ‘If I see further today it is only because I stand on the shoulders of giants’ might seem like an odd hyperbole for this setting, but to me it defines what made Rich Quinn’s contributions and attitude special to our profession. He was a wise and good soul, and he will be missed.”
Quinn served as CMS president in 1985-1986 and was elected a delegate to the AMA in 1986. CMS President-elect M. Robert Yakely, MD, was chairman of the CMS Council on Legislation during Quinn’s tenure as CMS president. “During that period we worked together closely on getting legislation on tort reform that has continued to protect Colorado physicians to this day. Rich was a leader in this effort and a visionary for our society in this area. He saw the need to form coalitions with other interested parties. It took several years to develop this coalition, but he never wavered in his effort to achieve this milestone goal much to the benefit of all the physicians of Colorado.”
“Through his leadership and direction the delegation to the AMA was able to pass many strategic resolutions and elect numerous delegates’ important positions within the AMA,” said Ray Painter, MD, past president of CMS and a leader of the Colorado delegation to the AMA. “Dr. Quinn was a very trusted friend to many and liked by all for his commitment, humility and sense of humor.”
AMA Past President Jeremy Lazarus, MD, calls Quinn a true friend and mentor who was “unassuming, humble, tactically astute and collegial in a very special way.” Quinn helped Lazarus gain the experience needed to run for AMA office and then helped him achieve that office. “He led our AMA delegation with great dignity and was a trailblazer when he was elected to the AMA’s Council on Constitution and Bylaws. He went on to chair that council with the same solid performance that he had always shown,” Lazarus said.
Quinn joined the COPIC board in 1986 and served for nearly 10 years before stepping off to become the vice president of COPIC’s Risk Management Department. Jerry Buckley, MD, past chairman and CEO of COPIC, credits Quinn with “raising the bar of patient safety and quality to such a degree in Colorado that it was considered the gold standard of medical liability insurance companies not only in the United States but worldwide.”
“Rich was the consummate risk manager, equally concerned for both the patient and the physician provider in any medical intervention,” Buckley continued. “His unique style of first telling you all the things you did correct captured your attention so you would be totally open to learn from what did not go as you anticipated. His love of medicine was only exceeded by his love for his wife, Carol, and children, Kevin and Shannon, and their beautiful children,” Buckley said. “I loved him, his sense of humor and have no one to replace his special charm.”
Posted in: Colorado Medicine