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Shelter founder dies of cancer

LAWRENCEVILLE - When Carrol Quinn and her husband, John, moved to Gwinnett County about 24 years ago, they had a mission to help those who were homeless and struggling.

The couple co-founded The Quinn House, an organization that has helped provide hundreds of needy people with shelter, food and clothes. The ministry's current administration will ensure that the Quinns' work continues here.

Quinn died Sunday morning at the age of 68 following a three-year bout with colon cancer. She was preceded in death by her husband, who died in 1999 of heart failure.

Diane Washam, the office manager at The Quinn House, remembered Quinn as "one of the most unforgettable characters we've ever known."

Quinn liked nothing more than to help someone who didn't know what the next 24 hours would hold, Washam said.

"It was her life's work," Washam said. "It was a part of her - the same way we feel she was a part of us."

Before The Quinn House opened, Quinn opened her home to those who needed a place to stay, Washam said. She and her husband would bring people off the streets and into their spare bedroom.

Washam said Quinn helped her understand how the simplest terms, such as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," can have the biggest meaning.

"She woke up my conscience about a lot of things that go on," Washam said.

Louise Radloff, a longtime Gwinnett County resident and Board of Education member, said she did not know Quinn but is familiar with her work.

"I've always admired what she did," Radloff said. "She went into the heart of downtown Lawrenceville and took in folks that nobody wanted. ... I can't help but admire someone who does that kind of work."

After Quinn was diagnosed with cancer, Gene Brinkley "inherited" his current position as director of The Quinn House, Washam said. Quinn was no longer involved with the day-to-day operations of the ministry, but she continued to have input in many decisions, Washam said.

Because of Quinn's illness, those who knew her were prepared for her death, Washam said.

"We're OK because she taught us how to be OK ... but something is missing out of our hearts," Washam said, adding, "She's not here, but it's like she is here."

Quinn's funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Tom M. Wages Funeral Services' Lawrenceville chapel at 120 Scenic Highway. Visitation will take place today from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Quinn House, 120 S. Perry St., Lawrenceville, Ga. 30045.