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CARL KOLOGIE: Quinn loved Elderton

by on May 05, 2013 3:00 AM

His lengthy obituary doesn’t begin to tell the whole story about Jack Quinn.

Accolades, honors, coaching achievements, hall of fame inductions, community leader, and the list goes on.

But if you read between the lines there is the story of Quinn’s love of family, school and community.

It would take several committees and maybe even an act of Congress to accomplish what Quinn has in his almost 40 years at Elderton High School and his 26 years as a member of Elderton Borough Council.

As a sports editor in the 1960s, I got to know Quinn, who at the time was the head volleyball coach at Elderton when his team won the WPIAL championship in 1964.

In fact, he initiated the sport at Elderton where baseball and basketball were the only two varsity programs when he started teaching and coaching there in the ’50s. He also brought soccer into the mix and coached and nurtured that sport until it reached varsity status.

Indiana resident Hal Wingard, a former baseball and basketball player under Quinn, was quoted in an earlier story as saying, “He became a very big part of all of us. In my estimation, he’s the kind of coach everyone would like to have.”

Wingard is a retired IUP health and physical education professor.

Quinn and his wife Jean had three children and he realized, as a father and teacher, that the need existed for activities for young people in the tiny Armstrong County community.

Quinn had a plan, and he knew it would take a lot of money and hard work to make his dream come true.

He knew just about everyone in Elderton and had been in almost every house in the borough of 350 people. That was because Quinn made friends everywhere he went and was always there to lend a hand, if need be.

Making good use of his winning personality and positive attitude, he recruited the late John Ralston Sr., who was a borough resident and retired engineer. Together they mapped out a plan for a park and recreation area that would be the envy of municipalities three times its size.

Quinn then called me at the Gazette, showed me the plans and requested a story be written about the project … and I obliged.

With empty pockets and armed only with his “whatever-it-takes” attitude, Quinn set out collecting favors not only from friends, but businesses and corporations in the area. In fact, an employee of U.S. Steel was quoted as saying that Quinn was “the biggest scronge in three states.”

Even Quinn had admitted that “people hated to see me coming.”

That was in 1971.

When the project was completed, and the bills paid, the park had a refreshment stand, three racquetball courts, a playground, a sunken Little League field surrounded by bleachers, four tennis courts, three pavilions and a sand volleyball court. At that time it was called Elderton/Plum Creek Park and Quinn, on borough council, was chairman of the area’s recreation and parks commission.

Then, in 1994, it was renamed. Today, the Jack Quinn Sports Complex stands as a testament to his vision and contributions to the park.

Quinn was a friend and a true statesman for the Elderton community.



Carl Kologie is a columnist for The Indiana Gazette.
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