William J. Quinn, 1911-2015

November 12, 2015

William J. Quinn, whose 40-year railroading career culminated as Chairman and CEO of the Milwaukee Road, died Oct. 24, 2015 at the Glen Care Center in Glenview, Ill. He was 104.Website Insert Development Finance and Management copy

Quinn was born May 8, 1911 in St. Paul, Minn. He graduated from Cretin High School in St. Paul in 1929 and enrolled at The College of St. Thomas. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1933. In 1935 he graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and entered private practice.

In 1937, Quinn became an Assistant United States Attorney in Minneapolis. In 1940, he moved to the Law Department of the Soo Line Railroad, beginning a four-decade career as a railroader. In 1942, he met Floy Heinen, who would become his wife of 65 years and mother of their eight children. Quinn also joined the FBI as counterespionage agent and later assisted in the capture of Germans in a submarine off the coast of Maine.

After World War II, Quinn returned to the Soo Line and eventually became its Vice President and General Counsel. In 1954, Bill, Floy and their four sons moved to the Chicago area. He joined the Milwaukee Road as General Solicitor. In less than four years, at age 46, he was named the youngest President of the Milwaukee Road in its history. Four daughters were born in Winnetka, Ill.

In 1966, Quinn became President of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. In 1970, when the CB&Q, Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Spokane, Portland & Seattle merged to become the Burlington Northern Railroad, he was named Vice Chairman. He later returned to the Milwaukee Road and became its Chairman and CEO, a position he held until 1978.

Read the full story from Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono by clicking here.


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