A former dean of Iona’s College of Arts and Science, and author of a 50-year history of New Rochelle’s Iona College, Brother Quinn was a deeply respected figure in education, both general and Irish.
Born in Summerville, Mass., Quinn returned to Ireland as a child with his family in the aftermath of the 1918 global flu epidemic. Ennistymon, Co. Clare would be Quinn’s boyhood home. As a young man he would join the Christian Brothers and embark on a lifetime of teaching.
Quinn returned to the U.S. in 1949 and taught in the Bronx. He earned his doctorate at Fordham and joined the faculty at Iona College in 1957. It was at Iona that he attained his full professorship. He became dean of the College of Arts and Science in 1965. His tenure lasted until 1972, when he returned to teaching. In 1973, he was named executive vice president of Iona College, a position he held until 1980.
At age 67 old, Quinn returned to teaching part time, focusing on English, the Irish language and literature. He was prominent in Irish cultural societies to the point that he was chosen grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1982.
Brother Quinn recorded his big day in his Iona history, and in his typically self-effacing style: “On March 17, 1982, the Iona contingent marched proudly up the avenue honoring one of its own, Brother Charles Quinn, who had been chosen grand marshal. A lifelong supporter of Irish affairs and the first educator to be so honored, he attributed his selection as a tribute to the Congregation to which he belonged, a Congregation that had made significant contributions to the Irish in New York City and environs.”
It would be fitting indeed if this year’s parade marchers spare a thought for the significant contributions that Brother Charles Quinn himself made to his beloved congregation, to the advance of Irish learning and culture, and to the Irish-American community.