Francis Quinn, longtime State House reporter, dies at 70

May 25, 2022 GMT

MEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — Francis X. Quinn, a former Associated Press reporter who covered Maine government and politics with fairness and integrity for more than a quarter century, has died. He was 70.

From 1981 to 2009, Quinn was a fixture in Maine where lawmakers and others described him as a quiet and humble observer with a deep knowledge of state politics — and who didn’t tolerate spin or lies.

“None finer, funnier, or more quietly observant,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills wrote in an online tribute.

Lee Umphrey, former communications director for then-incoming Gov. John Baldacci, became friends with Quinn but recalled a rough first meeting when he tried to steer Quinn away from a story.

“I ask the questions,” Quinn retorted.

Quinn had an early interest in journalism, starting a sports column in the fifth grade. Later, he worked at several newspapers but the majority of his career, 28 years, was with The Associated Press at the Maine State House.

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Raised in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Quinn loved Boston sports. As a kid, his favorite holiday was Patriots Day when he watched the Boston Marathon, followed by the Red Sox baseball game.

He attended Georgetown University and graduated from Boston College before launching his professional journalism career.

In Maine’s capital city, other reporters were sometimes envious of Quinn’s ability to break news. But he put in the time, regularly staying late at hearings, and dug deeper to get his scoops, Umphrey said.

“He was the guy who put the shoe leather down,” he said.

Quinn died on May 17 in Medford, Massachusetts. The funeral home declined to provide details. His late wife, Donna Muise Quinn, predeceased him.

Quinn referred to himself as a “newspaperman” and his family said that people can honor him by doing as he suggested: “Go at your own pace” and “hold in your hand a newspaper.”