Man for All Seasons

Bob Quinn, a geography professor with a passion for the weather, died on Oct. 10.

In 1967, Robert “Bob” Quinn, a newly minted assistant professor of geography at Eastern Washington State College, arrived in Cheney to find himself confronted by the coldest, snowiest winter in the city’s recorded history. His new colleagues no doubt thought it odd that Quinn, who grew up in balmy Southern California, seemed right at home.

Bob Quinn

Over the next 49 years, faculty, students and staff at what became Eastern Washington University would learn that Professor Quinn was, in fact, a scientist who could make his home in an impressive array of scholarly environments. Among these was predicting weather, snowy or otherwise. 

“I’m not sure that I can spell meteorologist, but I want to be one” a youthful Quinn once told his mother. He would go on to become one of the nation’s premiere long-range forecasters, and today there is a weather station outside Isle Hall named in his honor.

By the time he retired in 2016, Quinn had used his amazing range of talents to guide hundreds of students through coursework in geography, oceanography, climatology and, of course, atmospheric science. He also pursued a passion for riparian ecology, founding a program in wetlands study at EWU and serving for years as the go-to wetlands consultant for Spokane County. 

Teaching and field work weren’t the only things that sparked Quinn’s enthusiasm and loyalty. As both a faculty member and retiree, he never waned as a faithful booster of Eastern Athletics. For many years he served as the faculty advisor for EWU’s club hockey team, while rarely missing the chance to attend Eagles football, basketball and volleyball games in person — no matter the weather.

Bob Quinn was 79 years old.