Robert Quin McWhirter--who cherished family, God, lifelong friends, music, community, the Episcopal Church, good food, and all things Uvalde--died on July 13, 2019, at age 78, surrounded by the special family who so loved him. The son of Dorothy and John McWhirter and grandson of Bishop Clinton S. and Hortense Quin and Landy Murdock and Luna Adlyn Spradling McWhirter, he is survived by his wife, Marti, daughters Julie Stevenson and Kelles Kennedy Villeneuve (husband Robert); sister Lyn McWhirter Fraser; stepson Jason Brown; niece Eleanor Fraser; grandchildren Tara Kennedy, Aaron Stevenson (wife Emily), and Nicole Stevenson; great-grandsons Myles and Harbor Stevenson; grandnephew Jasper Sol Fraser-Woodhead; and first cousin Wendy Hirst Fredland.
Quin grew up in Uvalde where he served as an acolyte and sang in the choir at St. Philip’s Episcopal church, starred on the high school basketball team, mowed his neighbors’ yards, read books from the El Progresso Library, worked at Jimmie Hutchison’s downtown filling station, ate Tex Mex at Vasquez Café, and generally connected with everyone in town. He maintained and nurtured these relationships throughout his life, including serving as a founding board member and webmaster of the Uvalde High School Alumni Association and helping organize an annual reunion of his high school classmates.
After graduation from college (Rice and Sam Houston State), Quin served in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, where he was on active duty at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston when NASA began the space program. He helped with the medical care of the original seven astronauts. Quin worked in the electric utility business for 38 years and spent his career with Houston Lighting and Power Co.
where he headed six departments for the company. Quin said that the friendships he developed during his business career enriched his life beyond description.
After retirement, he continued contributing his talents to the community as a volunteer, serving on the board of the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, the Rice Historical Society, and the Houston Grampian Association. His book, ALL FOR RICE’S HONOR—THE ROBERT P. QUIN AWARD, about the history of Rice and its annual Bob Quin (Quin’s uncle) athletic award was published by the Rice University Press in 2008. Quin could occasionally be spotted at charity events around Houston wearing his trademark family kilt. He and Marti traveled to Scotland several times, enjoying the beautiful land and exploring his Scottish heritage.
An accomplished guitarist with a fabulous tenor voice, Quin considered music his therapy and felt fortunate to be part of Baytown’s Goose Creek General Store, a band that played blue grass, gospel and 50s and 60s music, and before that the Kingwood/Forest Cove Choraliers. Reflecting his strong spiritual life and faith, Quin played guitar and he and Marti sang for many years with the St. John the Divine Episcopal Sounds of Celebration at the church’s weekly 6 p.m. service.
Quin believed that people can make of themselves whatever they want, and that it is important to seize the opportunities to become the best that we can be. It was his personal goal to serve other people however he could as the only way he knew to repay the countless friends and family members who did so much for him throughout his life. Quin’s family and friends will tell you that he succeeded on all counts, in ways well beyond measure. He loved people—his precious family, old friends, new friends, random friends, acquaintances—wherever he met them. Quin will be profoundly missed by those who knew and loved him, even as he organizes a blue grass sing-along for God and Co. in the upper balcony of heaven.
A memorial service will be held at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Houston at 1 p.m. on Quin’s 79th Birthday, August 17. It will be a Celebration of Guitars and any friend who would like to bring their guitar and play, is welcome. Please contact Kelles at (281) 414-9763 if you are interested. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in Quin’s name to St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Uvalde, the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, or the charity of your choice.