Welcome to the memorial page for

John C. Quinn

October 24, 1925 ~ July 11, 2017 (age 91)

John Collins Quinn, who spent half a century in the newspaper world and retired as Editor-In-Chief of USA Today, died July 11, 2017 of natural causes. He was 91 years old.

Quinn was the husband of the late Lois Richardson Quinn. They enjoyed 52 years of marriage, during which they made homes in Edgewood and Carolina, RI; Rochester, NY; Washington DC; and Cocoa Beach, FL.

Quinn was born in Providence in 1925, the son of the late John A. and Kathryn Collins Quinn. He grew up there, graduating from Classical High School in 1942.

Quinn began his newspaper career on Easter Sunday, 1943, as a night copy boy at the Providence Journal while attending Providence College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1945. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree from Columbia University School of Journalism in 1946, while also working on the overnight news staff at NBC in New York City.

He returned to The Providence Journal reporting staff and worked through the ranks of assistant city editor, Washington correspondent, and was day managing editor of the Journal Bulletin when he left in 1966 after 23 years on that news staff.

Quinn joined Gannett Co. Inc. as executive editor of its two Rochester, NY, newspapers, the Democrat and Chronicle and the Times-Union. He later added the role of President of the Gannett News service, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service during his tenure.

He was promoted to the corporate staff of the nationwide Gannett Newspaper Group as its chief news executive and served as news planning leader for USA Today, later becoming its editor-in-chief.

During his news career Quinn served as national president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association. He was named Editor of the Year in 1986 by The National Press Foundation and he received the Women in Communications Headliner Award in 1986, the William Allen White Citation in 1987, and the Paul Miller Oklahoma State University Medallion in 1988.

He was named to the Rhode Island Hall of Fame in 1975 and received honorary degrees from Providence College, Bryant College, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Roger Williams College.

He retired from Gannett on Easter Sunday night, 1990, 47 years to the hour after his first night as copy boy at the Providence Journal.

Quinn then became deputy chairman and a trustee of the Freedom Forum, an international foundation dedicated to the enrichment of free press, free speech, and free spirit. In recent years he served as an advisory trustee.

Following the death of their oldest son, John C. Quinn Jr., in 1990, John and Loie Quinn founded the Chips Quinn Scholars Program to offer training, internships, and scholarships to college journalism students of color as an effort to bring greater diversity to the nation’s news staffs. It has more than 1,300 graduates, the large majority of whom are in news staff careers across the USA.

In recent years, “johnandloie”, as they were known to family and friends, dedicated themselves to the continued preservation of the historic Carolina village. They acquired and restored the two-hundred-year-old Carolina Mill and refurbished many of its deteriorating buildings as a historic center, conservation space, and part-time home.

Quinn is survived by his daughter, Lo-anne Quinn Cellar and son-in-law Charles J. Cellar of Carolina, RI, and Cocoa Beach, FL; his son, Richard Burnham (“R.B.”) Quinn and daughter-in-law Mindy A. Merrell, of Nashville, TN; and two grandchildren, Stephen C. Cellar and Amelia Q. Cellar of San Francisco, CA. He was the father of the late John “Chips” Quinn, Jr., and Christopher “Kiffer” Quinn, and the brother of the late Kathryn Q. Coletta.

His funeral will be held on Saturday, July 15th at 9:00 a.m. from the Carolina Mill, 6 Carolina Mill Lane, (off 112) Carolina, RI.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church in Carolina.  Burial will be at White Brook Cemetery, Carolina.  Visiting hours will be in the family center in the restored Carolina Mill on Friday from 5-7 pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to The Carolina Preservation & Band Society, a non-profit organization founded by Quinn which funds projects dedicated to the preservation of the historic village of Carolina, RI (P.O. Box 44, Carolina, RI, 02812). Information and condolences please visit:



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