Paul S. Quinn, 88, of Middletown, RI, a Washington attorney who gained prominence as a pioneer in America’s contribution to the Irish peace process, died after a long illness on October 8, 2023, at Newport Hospital in the presence of his loving family.
Born in Pawtucket, RI, on Christmas Eve 1934, Paul was the eldest of four sons of Joseph L. and Mary E. (Flynn) Quinn. He was married to his beloved wife, the former Denise Kirby, for 59 years until her passing in 2016.
Paul is survived by his sons Stephen and Kevin, Kevin's wife Mary, and their daughters Kaylie and Irelynn. He is also survived by his brothers Thomas H. and Francis, his nieces Tara Rielly and Mary Quinn, nephews Thomas H. Jr., Andrew, Piper, and Joseph Quinn, six grandnieces and one grandnephew. He was the brother of the late J. Eugene Quinn.
Paul graduated from St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket in 1952 and from Providence College in 1956, later serving as president of its Alumni Association in 1977. He was a veteran of the US Army and served as a lieutenant at Fort Bliss, TX.
In 1961, having recently graduated from Georgetown Law School, he became the first legislative assistant to the then-newly-elected junior senator from Rhode Island, Claiborne Pell.
Although he entered private practice after two years, Paul maintained a close relationship with the senator that spanned his 36-year tenure in public office. He was a founding partner of the Washington, DC law firm Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer & Quinn.
During his nearly 60-year career at Wilkinson Barker and other firms, he specialized in telecommunication, aviation, and banking law, expertly navigating his clients’ interests before Congress and US government regulatory agencies.
A proud grandson of Irish immigrants, it was not surprising that Paul’s interest in Ireland began at an early age and became especially keen in the late 1960s, at the advent of the conflict known as The Troubles.
He worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill and on both sides of the Atlantic in support of Senator George Mitchell, Speaker Tip O’Neill, John Hume, and other champions of peace. With them, he laid the foundation for the Good Friday Agreement.
He was one of the founders of the annual American Ireland Fund Dinner in Washington. Paul was the recipient of The Irish Peace and Culture Award, presented by Speaker Tom Foley at the Fund’s 2005 dinner.
Paul was a kind and supportive mentor to generations of young people, especially those who were interested in the peace process. He had a matchless ability to deliver a joke with a twinkle in his eye and a smile that would light up the room – whether it be a conference room or a committee room.
A devoted friend, he would often quote these lines from Yeats: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.” A long-time resident of McLean, VA, he was a former member of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, the Washington Golf and Country Club in Arlington, VA, the Clambake Club of Newport, and the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club in Seminole, FL.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that consideration be given to making a memorial contribution in Paul’s name to the Quinn Family Scholarship Fund at Providence College, 1 Cunningham Square, Unit 412 Providence, RI 02918, or givetopc.org. Celebration of Life services will be held in Washington and Newport at dates to be determined.