A Tribute to Sensei Roger Quinn:


For those of you that don’t know, I work in law enforcement.  The hours are long and, being in the business of watching people, you get to see some pretty interesting things.  A few months back, while keeping an eye on a house, a co-worker and I sat there and watched some random guy doing a poor job of trying to parallel park down in New York City.  He backed into and knocked over a bike, a motorcycle. It’s the City; it happens, right? 

So afterward, my partner told me this same thing happened to him once upon a time.  That is, he tipped over a bike while parking years ago.  This is a policeman and so, being the good and responsible guy he was and is, he left a note, of course:


So I thought that was funny, and it actually reminded me of Roger for a few different reasons.  For one, Roger had a bike.  Two, he would have thought this was funny also, even if it was his bike.  And the reason he would have thought so, three, is that Roger was a guy who always saw the bright side in everything and everyone. 

I was lucky enough to meet Roger Quinn at a judo tournament in Rochester back in the 1980’s.  For some odd reason, why I still don’t know, he took a big interest in this horrible kid judo player that wanted to go out and smash everyone, and usually ended up getting smashed himself instead.  He cheered me on, though – the same way he did with others in life, both on and off the mat.  Roger believed in his friends and knew how to motivate them in the best way possible.   When the time was right, he sometimes had a way of making you think you were better than you were.   And the thing is, you were better after listening to Roger Quinn.  That’s the kind of guy he was. 

A few years later, in 1990, I moved to this area for judo in large part because of people like Roger.  Money was tight then, and even McDonald’s could afford to be picky about hiring. I should know.  When I needed to eat and didn’t have the money, which was often, there would always be some charity work not really needing to get done that suddenly would need doing.  And funny thing: Roger never seemed to have small bills or the right change when payday would come, so there would usually be an “advance”.  He helped me along as though I were family and I am pretty sure, as I look around the room here, that I see at least a couple of others who benefited from this as well.  Again, that’s the kind of guy he was.

I could go on, but I’ll just say:

Roger was a generous guy.  He’d give you the shirt off his own back and would somehow have you walking away feeling good about taking it. 

Roger was a people guy.  You could talk to him about anything and you’d never find anyone more interested in what you were doing and how you were doing at it than Roger Quinn. 

Roger was a wise guy.  He had a pretty uncanny ability – and I told him this a month ago, to steer people right without pushing them and without ever taking the credit he so obviously deserved.  Like some Jedi mind trick, he’d get you to move toward whatever it was that was in your own best interests, and always on your own steam. 

So here I stand before you, a part of me sad.  I feel I’ve lost a friend and a father as much as anyone here in this room.   But really, I have not – because, as in judo, I now have everything he gave me to give back with and pass on, which I intend to do.  And, if I can get to this man’s age and manage to fill one of his shoes in this lifetime, I’ll have done pretty alright.