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Joseph Quinn, 73, led alcohol treatment units


Joseph F. Quinn, who struggled from alcoholism to gain national renown as a director of two treatment programs for those with the same disease, died Sept. 5 at his Bel Air home. He was 73 and had emphysema.

Mr. Quinn, who was sober for 33 years, served from 1971 to 1986 as director of the Hidden Brook Center for Alcoholism, a nationally recognized Harford County institution for alcoholics on former 153-acre dairy farm.

He directed the Quinn Treatment Center in Fullerton from 1986 until 1991, when he retired.

"The reason I hired Joe was because I was attracted to his ability as an educator, speaker, and his long period of sobriety, plus he served as a role model to the patients," said Hidden Brook co-founder Irving Cohen. Mr. Quinn's philosophy was simple: "Alcoholism cannot be cured. It only can be arrested and recognized."

The 30-day treatment period he administered -- which in 1974 became the first in the nation to be covered by medical insurance -- stressed the physical and emotional well-being of the patient through specialized treatment in a residential facility. The treatment also recognized that alcoholics cannot stay sober without continuing support.

"His success came from the fact that he never, ever judged a human being. He always found good in them. Even if they were dead wrong, he'd say, 'There must be a reason,' " said Betty O'Hara, his secretary at Hidden Brook and later at the Quinn Treatment Center.

Mr. Quinn, whose office wall bore the Latin phrase "Primum non nocere," "First, do no harm," also believed that after treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous would become the alcoholic's chief resource for staying sober.

"He was brilliant and . . . a big favorite with the patients," said David Shay, a substance abuse counselor in New York. "Because he was an alcoholic, he was compassionate, forgiving and not judgmental."

"It made no difference to him if an alcoholic was from Yale or jail, he could talk to them on their own level," said Bob Miller of the American Council on Alcoholism.

Mr. Quinn, born and raised in Beverly, Mass., earned his bachelor's degree from Amherst College. During World War II he served with the Marine Corps' Raider Battalion in the South Pacific. After the war, he worked for the Ruberoid Corp. and later was a manufacturers' representative. He moved to Baltimore in 1960.

A memorial Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church, 141 Hickory Ave., Bel Air.

He is survived by four sons, Joseph F. Quinn Jr. of Newton, Mass., James A. Quinn of Succasunna, N.J., Daniel T. Quinn of Anchorage, Alaska, and William C. Quinn of Guadalajara, Mexico; two daughters, Katie Carolan of Timonium and Mary Holliday of Newark, Del.; a sister, Betty Allen of Salem, Mass.; and 15 grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Friends of Mann House, 14 William St., Bel Air 21014.

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