Pierce Arthur Quinlan, entrepreneur, scholar-athlete, adventurer

Pierce Arthur Quinlan (83) died unexpectedly and quickly on Saturday, October 29, 2022 at home in Henlopen Acres of natural causes, a cardiac arrest. He was a man steeped in integrity in everything he said or did. His death was as he would have wanted, befitting his style: sharp, clear and straight to the point. Pierce had a wide variety of interests, from baseball to books, sports to stocks, education to performance, fine wines to fine dining, skiing to scuba diving, tennis to travel, along with art, yoga, cycling, cars and the Caribbean. . The tall handsome Pierce always loved the moon, had a twinkle in his eye and a gift for Irish storytelling and riveting conversation. He loved dogs and the beach as much as he loved his daily Diet Coke and three chocolate chip cookies he dubbed “The Breakfast of Champions!”

Houses are a curious thing to collect, but Pierce did it with passion, eventually owning 43. He was a master gardener as taught by his grandfather, and nicknamed himself “Pietro the Gardener” which was the Italian name for Pierce, formed by the surroundings of his native Milton, Mass.; he was born on August 21, 1939. Pierce excelled as a high school student-athlete and earned accolades as a star ice hockey goaltender, following a similar path graduating from Boston College in 1961 with a degree in economics . In 1986, he attended Stanford University and earned his master’s degree in entrepreneurship. Visiting Napa and Sonoma’s vineyards, he became a self-taught oenophile. A supreme athlete, Pierce was a baseball player, an avid skier, a deep-sea diver, a relentless tennis player and a demon roller skater.

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As well as being a devoted loving Father to his children Kelly, Keith and Kim, Pierce took a keen interest in the education of young people and asked intensely facilitating questions about their likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, leading them to make smart future plans. For a decade, Pierce delighted in being a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With distinctive white hair, he was nicknamed Heigh Ho Silver by his wife Sparkle Plenty.

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After the Army, Pierce’s career began in Washington, DC, at the Department of Labor. The thin, gaunt New Englander was first sent south to establish educational centers. Over time, he rose to the highest ranks of the federal government to run employment and training programs nationwide, and was then tapped to break up the Truckers Teamsters Union, which demanded protection. During his long Washington career, Pierce won the Arthur S. Fleming Award, as one of the top 10 outstanding men and women in federal service. He became executive vice president of the National Alliance for Business with his signature reading program targeting the underserved. Then to Loral Industries, leading the born entrepreneur to buy his division and start his own software company, Learnscape, which distributes educational tools, especially to help the prison population.

Over time, Pierce became a dedicated and respected community leader. He was on Rehoboth Art League and Henlopen Acres Beach Club’s boards, among others. He was a fitness enthusiast and got a kick out of the camaraderie of setting up the tents for Rehoboth Farmers Market. He also belonged to the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild.

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His first marriage to Judy Robinson Quinlan ended in divorce. He was widowed after a 25-year marriage when his wife Joyce Starbird Quinlan died of brain cancer. On Flag Day June 14, 14 years ago, he married widow Virginia Daly of Henlopen Acres and DC. He is survived by his wife and children, Kelly Quinlan, Kim Quinlan (Chris Lea), Keith Quinlan (Lourdes); grandson Kyle Quinlan; and step-grandson Gustavo Gonzalez.

Funeral services are at 1 p.m., Wednesday, November 9 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 18 Olive Ave., Rehoboth. Private interment will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, anyone interested in contributing in Pierce’s honor may consider Rehoboth Art League, Rehoboth Beach Yoga or Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild.

To read the full unabridged obituary, visit Pierce’s Life Memorial webpage and sign his virtual guestbook at parsellfuneralhomes.com.


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