Pierce Arthur Quinlan, entrepreneur, scholar-athlete, adventurer

Pierce Arthur Quinlan, 83, passed away unexpectedly and quickly on Saturday, October 29, 2022, of natural causes of heart failure at home in Henlopen Acres. He was a man of integrity in everything he said or did. His death was as he wished, to suit his style: crisp, clear and straight to the point. Pierce had many interests, from baseball to books, sports to stocks, education to achievement, fine wine to fine dining, skiing to deep water diving, tennis to travel, art, yoga, biking, cars and the Caribbean. Tall, handsome Pearce always loved the moon, he had a twinkle in his eye and a gift for Irish storytelling and engaging conversation. He loved dogs and the beach as much as he loved his daily Diet Coke and three chocolate chip cookies he called “The Breakfast of Champions!” It is called

Collecting houses is a curious thing but Pierce did so with passion, eventually owning 43. He was a master gardener as taught by his grandfather, nicknaming himself “Pietro the Gardener”, an Italian name shaped around a pear. He was born in Milton, Mass.; He was born on August 21, 1939. Pierce excelled as a high school scholar-athlete, winning awards as a star ice hockey goalie, graduating from Boston College in 1961 with a degree in economics along a similar path. In 1986, he attended Stanford University, earning his Masters in Entrepreneurship. Visiting the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma, he became a self-taught oenophile. A supreme athlete, Pierce was a baseball player, an avid skier, a deep-water diver, a tireless tennis player and a monster rollerblader.

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In addition to being a loving father devoted to his children Kelly, Keith and Kim, Pierce took a keen interest in the education of young people, keenly asking intuitive questions about their likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, guiding them to make smart future plans. For a decade Pierce was happy to be the clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With distinctive white hair, he was given the moniker Haig Ho Silver by his wife Sparkle Plenty.

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After the Army, Pierce’s career began with the Department of Labor in Washington, DC. Lean New Englanders were first sent south to establish centers of education. In time, he rose to the top levels of the federal government to run nationwide employment and training programs, then was tapped to break up the Truckers Teamsters union, which needed 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 is the Executive Vice President of the National Alliance for Business whose Hallmark Reading Program targets the underserved. Then at Loral Industries, leading the born entrepreneur to buy his division and start his own software company, Learnscape, to distribute educational tools, especially to support the prison population.

Over time, Pierce became a dedicated and respected community leader. He was on the Rehoboth Art League and Henlopen Acres Beach Club boards, among others. A fitness buff, he got a kick out of the camaraderie of putting up tents for the 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 25 years of marriage when his wife, Joyce Starbird Quinlan, died of brain cancer. On Flag Day June 14, 14 years ago, he married widow Virginia Daley of Henlopen Acres and DC and is survived by his wife and children, Kelly Quinlan, Kim Quinlan (Chris Lee), Keith Quinlan (Lourdes); grandson Kelly Quinlan; and step-grandson Gustavo Gonzalez.

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

In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to make a contribution in Pierce’s honor may consider the Rehoboth Art League, Rehoboth Beach Yoga, or the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild.

To read a complete brief obituary, visit Pierce’s Life memorial webpage and sign his virtual guestbook at parsellfuneralhomes.com.


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