BOSTON (AP) — Robert Quinn, the former state attorney general and Massachusetts House speaker, who helped create the University of Massachusetts and toughen environmental protections in the state, has died. He was 85.
Quinn died after collapsing early Sunday morning at his Falmouth home and being rushed to a nearby hospital, his law partner James Morris confirmed.
Morris said Quinn had recently moved back into the two-family home where he was raised in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.
“That’s where he was most at home,” Morris said. “He was thrilled to be there, he was in heaven.”
Quinn served in the state House of Representatives from 1957 until 1969, the last two years as speaker. His gave his name to the Quinn Bill, which gives police with college degrees higher pay.
He was attorney general from 1970 until 1974, when he lost in the Democratic primary for governor to Michael Dukakis.
Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn called Quinn a “political leader of intelligence and integrity ... remembered for his decency and commitment to fairness and rule of the law.”
Quinn also helped found the University of Massachusetts-Boston and served as chairman of the University of Massachusetts board of trustees.
UMass-Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley said Quinn opened the doors of urban public higher education to city residents.
“We will miss Bob dearly, but we are gratified that he was able to see the university he helped found mark its 50th anniversary this year,” Motley said in a statement.
Quinn was ridiculed at the time for wanting to build a university campus on the site of a former dump, but he pushed ahead anyway, Morris said.
As attorney general, Quinn led a multistate challenge to the federal government’s ability to drill for offshore oil, created the state’s first Environmental Protection Division, and established the New England Organized Crime Intelligence System.