July 17, 2022. When I competed in my first Masters National Championship in the fall of 2013, Bill Quinlisk was the Referee. Pam Fales tells me that she first became involved with USATF Masters LDR in 2007 and that Bill was already active and had been for years. Bill, for those who do not already know, succumbed to cancer after a relatively brief but hard-fought battle with the disease; he passed away on May 16, 2022.
A funeral service and celebration of his life took place in Rochester, New York, where Bill grew up, on July 2nd. Folks are encouraged to contribute to Maximum Velocity, a USATF-sanctioned Track & Feild Club. Maximum Velocity provides elementary, middle school, high school and college-aged track and field athletes in the Greater Rochester area a way to train, learn and compete in the summer.
[Please see comment by Bruce Kirschner in the comments section below (identified by the Blog as 'Anonymous') for details on how to make a donation.]
Mike Nier reported that he and several other GVH Masters Athletes competed in Maximum Velocity's Bill Quinlisk Memorial Meet on July 12th.
|Bill Quinlisk in his happy place, a Masters National Cross Country Championship Photo by Michael Scott|
Bill was Vice Chair of the Masters LDR Committee for most of that period, when Don Lein was Chair. When Mary Rosado took over as Chair in 2016, Bill remained as Vice Chair; his technical knowledge and willingness to serve were key factors in his success. Rosado commented: "Bill was one of the longest serving members of the Committee, and I often sought his advice. I will miss his passion and his expertise.”
When Lloyd Hansen took over as Chair in 2020, Bill indicated that he was happy to continue to serve as Vice Chair. Little did anyone know, at the time, that within the year, Lloyd would be diagnosed with Mesothelioma. He decided, in the interests of a smooth and structured transition, to step down at the 2021 Annual Meeting and allow the Executive Committee to select a new Chair. The Committee voted unanimously to ask Bill to serve.
Ironically, Bill’s health started to decline shortly after he took over as Chair.
|Bill Quinlisk, USATF Masters LDR Chair, addressing those assembled for the 2021 Masters National Grand Prix Awards, December 11, 2021 Photo by Todd Straka|
Neither he, nor anyone else, thought it would be something he could not lick. But the cancer was very aggressive.
Bill was a 'Hands on/Chip In' kind of guy. If a job needing doing, he would get it done. He would walk or ride the course before the race; if there was a pothole, he would mark it with a cone. If a turn did not have a well-defined curb, he would mark it with flags.
|Bill Quinlisk making sure that the Finishing Tape is all set for the Overall Masters Champion to Break at the 2019 Lehigh Club Cross Championship Photo By Michael Scott|
Most importantly Bill knew the rules and how to apply them. Runners and Clubs knew they could rely on him to rule on an appeal fairly and without any favoritism. Mitch Garner, USATF Board member observed, “Bill was a good man. He always went out of his way to make sure that clubs had everything they needed when they came to a Masters National Championship. He was a prince of a guy and will be missed.” In a more whimsical vein, Garner suggested that “The Masters Running Community in Heaven, in dire need of a resurgence, has benefitted, no doubt, from Bill taking on the Chair of Masters LDR there, and introducing age divisions and age grading across the millennia.”
|Bill Quinlisk makes sure that all Masters athletes in a Championship take the turn as measured|
Bill served as both Chair and Vice Chair of the USATF Masters LDR Committee. But at the same time, he was serving as President, first, of the Niagara Association and subsequently, after moving from Syracuse to Albany, the Adirondack Association. His dedication to serving at USATF from the ground up was remarkable. His greatest service to the Masters LDR Committee was through his work as liaison to the Cross Country Council. In that role he was chief of operations for the Masters races at Club Cross and Cross Nationals. He was almost a one-man show when it came to the 5 Km Masters Cross Country Championships. He often handled everything from Packet Pickup to Refereeing to Awards. He loved the Cross Country experience!
Lloyd Hansen summed up the feelings of the folks who worked with Bill on the Masters LDR Committee, “We will greatly miss Bill’s passion, caring personality, dedicated service, and extraordinary knowledge of our sport. Bill had a special gift of inspiring those around him and demanding excellence in all that we do. He has left a remarkable legacy! “
Masters athletes will remember Bill as the most consistent face of Masters LDR, especially at national Cross Country races. Seeing Bill's friendly face was reassuring; they knew that he had worked on the details to make sure that everything was organized as well as possible. They trusted Bill to organize the event and see that the rules were observed and enforced impartially without a hint of favoritism. Bill wanted the athletes to be free to compete at the highest level, with no worries about the fine details. He delivered on that promise time and again.
Bill was devoted to Cross Country. Where he saw a gap, he tried to fill it. One example is his Masters Cross Country website at Masters Cross Country (mastersxc.com). It contains a wealth of information about past events, the history of national championships and best practices in organizing national championships in Cross Country, with special attention to masters races.
Perry Jenkins, interim Chair of Masters LDR noted: “Bill brought me into Masters LDR. I will miss his guidance and the camaraderie we shared. He would want us to carry on with his work, and we will.”
Bill will always be associated in my mind with complete integrity. He was devoted to the objective of ensuring that Long Distance Running competitions would be governed by the rules, so that athletes and teams could rely on there being a level playing field for all. His passionate dedication to the sport will be missed.