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Hurley Medical Center’s ‘gentle giant’ dies from coronavirus

MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City logo MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City 4/21/2020 By Roberto Acosta, mlive.com
a man standing in front of a bus: Wendell Quinn (pictured here) died Sunday, April 19, 2020 of COVID-19. Quinn, 51, was a public safety officer for Hurley Medical Center in Flint for 26 years. © Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com/mlive.com/TNS Wendell Quinn (pictured here) died Sunday, April 19, 2020 of COVID-19. Quinn, 51, was a public safety officer for Hurley Medical Center in Flint for 26 years.

FLINT, MI – Standing head and shoulders above most people, Wendell Quinn’s height was only surpassed by the amount of caring he had for others.

A public safety officer of more than 26 years at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Quinn died Sunday, April 19 from COVID-19 at the hospital where he served. He was 51 years old.

Matthew Murray, Hurley’s public safety chief, called Quinn larger than life in “both stature and in personality.”

“Those of us who know him and who love him, he’s affectionately known as the gentle giant. (He) stood 7-foot-2 and he had a heart to match,” said Murray. “It’s hard to come to grips with the loss of someone like Wendell because he meant so much to everyone here.”

Quinn would always greet people with a smile and was willing to provide help when needed.

“To be a public safety officer at any medical center or any hospital, it takes a certain skill set,” Murray noted. “Patience for the patients... He cared about everyone and he would ask you how you were doing, and it wasn’t just something in passing. He actually cared about how you were doing, and he would sit there and listen to you. That is a quality and a trait that is not easily found. He was wonderful.”

Quinn was always eager to provide assistance with the Children’s Miracle Network and expressed a passion at getting people signed up for the annual Bowl-A-Thon at Grand Blanc Lanes hosted by the Hurley Foundation.

Along with his job at Hurley, Quinn served as the men’s bowling coach at Powers Catholic High School in Flint.

He took on the duty after stepping up to coach nephew Lawrence Royster, a 2012 Flint Powers graduate, during Royster’s senior year. Quinn also volunteered along the Crim race route, shuttling runners from the high school’s water station to the start line.

Quinn was a “coach, mentor and dear friend,” according to a Powers Catholic Facebook post.

“Wendell brought so much joy to his Powers family. Every visit to campus meant a visit in every office with a warm hello and a big smile,” the message reads. “We will miss him dearly and will forever treasure the gift of his friendship. May God wrap Wendell in His loving arms and grant him eternal peace.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, a registered nurse in Hurley’s emergency room department, said it was Quinn’s presence -- in more ways than one -- that helped deal with situations in what can be a nerve-wracking space.

While Quinn was an imposing man in size, outsiders may not have known about his kind nature that worked to his advantage.

“He was very helpful when you had a patient that was being a little unruly,” recalled Fitzpatrick. “Wendell walked through the door, they seemed to straighten up pretty quick.”

Quinn and Fitzpatrick would exchange barbecue ideas or share a joke and laugh in the hallways.

“(He was) just a great guy to talk to, you could talk to him about anything, what was going on in your personal life at home,” said Fitzpatrick. “He would listen, sometimes he would give you advice, sometimes he would just remain quiet and just be that ear that people need sometimes.”

Upon hearing the news of Quinn’s death, Fitzpatrick said it brought everything home once again about the current situation.

“Everything we’re going through, stress level as high as it is and then this hits someone that you’re very close with, it hits that much closer,” he added.

Quinn also served as a deacon at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Flint.

Fellow Hurley public safety officer Frank Felder Jr. was trained by Quinn a quarter of a century ago for the job. He said his colleague held his faith in high regard.

It’s a trait Felder said helped Quinn in dealing with the “people business” of working at the hospital.

“When people are going through different incidents you have to be able to relax them and comfort them and do everything you can to put them at ease,” Felder said. “I think his faith in Jesus Christ helped him solidify himself with people…He wasn’t just working for Hurley, he was working for the Lord.”

While Quinn may be gone, Felder said he’d want the staff to continue on in the face of the virus.

“He would want us to keep going, keep fighting for the sake of the community, Hurley Medical Center and himself,” said Felder. “He loved everybody. He was a great man and I’m truly going to miss him.”

Read more here:

Genesee, Shiawassee counties report new coronavirus deaths; cases slow across mid-Michigan

New Michigan coronavirus cases of 633 is daily low for month of April

Michigan lawmakers express concern at lack of federal help for state’s small businesses

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©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

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