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Thomas Leon Quinn, Sr.


Thomas L. Quinn, age 86, of Grand Rapids, MI., passed away surrounded by his family on Monday, February 21, 2022. He was born on November 17, 1935, in Grand Rapids to the late Robert and Albertine Quinn. He attended St. James grade school, graduated from Catholic Central High School in 1953, and from Aquinas College in 1957.

Tom went to work for Spartan Stores, Inc. and reached the position of vice president of sales and marketing. He left to become president of Family Foods Markets and then joined J.W. Messner advertising as partner and president until retiring in 1998.

Tom served on many boards including the Advisory Committee of Western Michigan University’s School of Food Distribution, Kendall College Board, Grand Rapids Better Business Bureau, and also as a member of the Development Council of Catholic Secondary Schools, and a member of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Children’s Summit, as well as many other community service and business organizations. He was also an active and longtime (65 years) member of his parish church of St. Thomas the Apostle. He was awarded the local American Advertising Federation Silver Medal Award in 1997 for the outstanding contributions to advertising and the community.

He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years Gerry (nee: Hillary), his son Thomas, Jr. (Anita), daughter Laura (Andrew Sheridan), daughter Colleen (Robert) Cullison, son John (Rebecca); his grandchildren, Dan (Danielle) Quinn, Karen (Steve) Privasky, Hillary (Trent) Darrow, Jennifer Cullison, Hannah Quinn, Lucy Quinn; and three great grandchildren, Caroline, Allie and Quinn.

He also leaves two brothers, Patrick (Rita) Quinn, Michael (Rose) Quinn; two sisters, Kathleen Quinn, Maureen Slade Bryant. He was preceded in death by his brother Bob (Janyce) and sister Noreen (Paul) Napierela, brothers-in-law Ray Slade, and Charlie Bryant. Tom also leaves sisters-in-law Mary Beth (Den) Ketelaar, Elaine Hillary, and brothers-in-law: Don (Carol) Hillary, Dick (Kate) Hillary, Fred (Linda) Hillary, Larry (Arlene) Hillary, Rody (Jeanne)) Hillary, and Kelly (Didi) Hillary. He was preceded in death by his brother-in-law Louis Hillary and sister-in-law JoAnn (Bob) Dunn. Tom has many nieces and nephews.

Tom had a philosophy he lived by and had this saying framed on his office wall: “Honesty is the best policy. Wrong is wrong even if everybody does it. Right is right even if nobody does it.” This guided him in all his personal and business relationships. He enjoyed speaking to students and new graduates and always made time to talk about a job search with individuals of any age.

Tom was a wonderful writer. He was fascinated with statistics of any kind and articles about self-improvement or enhancing business. He was an avid reader. All of these things prompted him to create a newsletter called Marketing Observations. In the beginning, he sent this to just a few business friends, but after a time, the word got out and many more asked to be included in his monthly mailing list! He would do a Time Capsule each month of key news events, the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, Gold, Oil, Gas and Unemployment numbers. These newsletters captured a wonderful moment in time for many, many years.

He had several hobbies. He enjoyed photography, painting, camping and traveling of any kind. He and his wife Gerry saw a good portion of the United States and many locations around the world. Their kids went with them on many of these adventures and have a lot of fond memories, camping in particular. He loved spending summers at their place in Grand Haven.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, February 28, 2022, 11 a.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, 1449 Wilcox Park Drive SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. Tom’s family will greet family and friends on Sunday, February 27, 2022, at O’Brien Gerst Funeral Home, 3980 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546 from 4 to 7 p.m. with a Rosary at 6:30 p.m. and visitation Monday at church 30 minutes prior to the Mass. Fr. James Chelich celebrant. Interment is at Resurrection Cemetery. Tom’s family would like to thank Faith Hospice and the caregivers at Cascade Trails who treated Tom like family.

The family kindly requests that guests wear face masks at all locations.

Contributions to Catholic Secondary Schools, or St. Thomas the Apostle Education Foundation would be appreciated.


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13 Responses

  1. The most magical, loving and divine person I will ever know. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a beautiful soul to lead me in life. Love you grandpa!

  2. A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Keep your memories close in your heart. He lived a long and productive life, was loved by many and made a difference in the lives of others. Rest In Peace Uncle Tom.
    Sending our love and prayers to all ~ Eileen and Gary

  3. Tom was a very kind and gentle man, always ready to help with any project. Tom and Geri were the best neighbors one could ever ask for. They will always be loved and missed at Lighthouse Point Condos. Condolences to the family. Rest In Peace, dear man

  4. Tom was such a sweet, wonderful man. He will be greatly missed at the Grand Haven Condo. All my prayers to Geri and family.

  5. Sending love and prayers to the entire Quinn clan. It was a pleasure to have known Tom. May he Rest In Peace and may each one of his family find comfort in knowing he has found peace with his Lord. Love and hugs to all, Gayle and Frank Belsito

  6. Amazing friend to our entire family. One of the “good guys”. God will be happy he’s now with Him.

  7. Prayers and thoughts with you and your family while understanding Gods plan. Uncle Tom was such a kind person and so interesting to talk to . Sending hugs

  8. Such a light – a combination of humor and kindness that is nearly impossible to describe without the experience.
    I was blessed to know Tom, and to see the love that he & Geri brought into the world. My deep sympathy to his family and friends.

  9. I always had great respect for Tom. He was a great example of how to inspire the younger Catholic parents with regard to Catholic education. He and his brother, Pat, Don Cole, Lyle Morrison and Tom Zellner (our Monday night tennis group) were a great group to learn from as a young father and business man. I was lucky to have known Tom!

  10. I have fond memories of Uncle Tom and specifically the Hillary Christmas parties that he and Gerry would host. I will specifically remember his smile. It was so warm and welcoming that it was impossible not be happy to see him.

    Sending our Love to the Quinn Family.

  11. We are so sorry we could not be there yesterday or today but our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tom. He will surely be missed–such a wonderful guy who always made one feel welcome at family gatherings or anytime you met him. Terry & Margaret Hillary

  12. It was my pleasure to know Tom while I was employed with JW Messner. He had a great work ethic and was a wonderful person. So sorry to learn of his passing, my sympathies to his family.

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