Scholarship awarded in memory of teacher

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    Warwick - Nearly five months ago, the Warwick community was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Anthony C. Quinn, a lifelong resident of Warwick, swimming star and instructor, and teacher. Last week, joy and pride replaced the sadness as Quinn's family, friends, and sports community honored him at the Warwick Valley All Sports Awards Banquet. Timothy Moran received the first annual Anthony C. Quinn Memorial Scholarship. Moran, a senior at Warwick Valley High School, accepted the $500 scholarship, presented by Anthony's twin sister, Antoinette. The Quinn family, including Anthony's parents, John and Antoinette, his brother, John, and sister, Antoinette, was also honored to receive a plaque that named Anthony to "Who's Who Among America's Teachers." One of Anthony's students, Matthew Hample, had nominated Quinn for the honor last October, according to Gwen N. Garcia, coordinator of athletics, physical education and health. About two weeks after Quinn's accident in January, the district received word that Quinn had won the honor. "We were thrilled that Anthony received this award," said his mother, Antoinette, herself a teacher at Good Shepherd preschool here in Warwick. "He knew so many kids throughout the district. He taught in every one of the schools." The scholarship awarded to Moran is from a memorial fund set up in Anthony's name. Marge LaPerl, a longtime friend of the Quinn family, is one of the committee members of the fund. "We've been family friends of the Quinns for 12 years. We, along with some other friends, wanted to do something more proactive in honoring Anthony," LaPerl said. LaPerl said the group knew of the Community Foundation of Orange County, which manages donor advised funds. The group contacted the foundation to handle the Quinn fund, which will not be limited to scholarships. "Since this is a memorial fund, we can also make a donation to the school," said LaPerl, who noted that the Quinn family is actively involved with the committee. The hope is to award two scholarships next year, she said. Mrs. Quinn said the decision to award Moran the scholarship was both difficult and easy. There was another student who came close, she said. But Moran met all of the criteria for the award. "He is just a great kid," said Mrs. Quinn. "He volunteers at St. Anthony's hospital, he's an overall good student, and his volunteer activities have to do with his future goals. He is a very humble kid." Moran plans to go into pediatric medicine. "We wanted to choose a student like Anthony," said LaPerl. All applicants had to write an essay describing why they have chosen the field they are going into. Mrs. Quinn said her family was honored by the show of affection they received last week at the awards banquet. When they received the Who's Who award for their son and brother, the crowd of several hundred people rose to their feet while applauding for Anthony. She has been gratified all along by the support the community has shown her and her family since Anthony's death, especially the support from the varsity swim team that her family has coached for years. "After Anthony died, I felt we would never coach again," said Mrs. Quinn. There were volunteers who stepped in for about two weeks to coach for the Quinns. The kids, however, kept coming by their house, talking to them about Anthony and the remainder of the season. "Then we looked at each other and said we owed it to Anthony to be on that deck coaching those kids," she added. That's just what they did. "It was just incredible, the love they had for him. When we had the meets, we could just picture Anthony running from lane to lane cheering the kids on," Mrs. Quinn said. Anthony's presence was evident to his mom at the section meet when Warwick swimmers came up with 31 best times out of 33 events. "Each of the kids came over to us and said ‘I did it for Anthony,'" she said proudly. "We knew he was there." And now the Quinns and the memorial committee want to make this a perpetual award. To do that, they must raise $25,000, something they are working on. Contributions in Anthony's name may be sent to the Community Fund of Orange County. "We thank God for the son he gave us," said Mrs. Quinn. "We have no regrets. He was such a great kid. He touched a lot of people. We were blessed with an angel."