03/07/10 — Quinn honored by N.C. Baptist Hospital board

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Quinn honored by N.C. Baptist Hospital board

By Staff Reports
Published in News on March 7, 2010 1:50 AM

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Gerald Quinn

WARSAW -- Businessman and civic leader Gerald H. Quinn was recently honored by North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem as an honorary lifetime member of its board of trustees. He is only the second person in the 87-year history of the hospital to receive the honor.

"It's the biggest honor of my life," Quinn said.

No one deserves it more than Quinn, said Donny Lambeth, president of Baptist Hospital.

Quinn served on the hospital board of trustees for 39 years including three stints as board chairman. He also chaired numerous committees.

"Gerald is a leader with a unique style that draws people to him," Lambeth said. "When Gerald talks, people listen."

He has a wit that enables him to make his points without offending people, Lambeth said.

"He knows how to interact with people," he said.

Quinn has made significant contributions to the development of the hospital, using his business knowledge to strengthen the hospital's financial condition, he said.

"Gerald challenged us to develop the controls and systems to maintain the financial performance and was disciplined in a business sense requiring us to set aside sufficient funds for technology and growth," Lambeth said.

Today, Baptist Hospital has 872 beds and has been ranked as one of America's Best Hospitals since 1993. The hospital is part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, a highly-respected academic medical center.

"When Gerald came on the board, we were basically a community hospital with fewer than 300 beds," Lambeth said. "We were going through financial challenges and Gerald used his business knowledge and people skills to reposition the hospital for the success we enjoy now."

Quinn jokes that he has worn out a car making trips from Warsaw to Winston-Salem.

"I've made at least six trips a year for 39 years, and it is a 400-mile trip," he says. "That's about 98,000 miles.

"It's been a gratifying growth experience. There is no other way that I could have had the opportunities that have come my way. Baptist Hospital is an extension of the Baptist church in this state, and for me, it is part of my church life in Warsaw."

Quinn was nominated for the board through the Warsaw Baptist Church where he has served in numerous capacities, including chairman of the board of deacons.

Born in Beulaville, Quinn attended Campbell College and was graduated from Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College.

He began working for the family business, Quinn Wholesale, when he was 16. His father moved the business to Warsaw to be closer to the railroad. Quinn joined the business full time in 1960. Quinn Wholesale grew rapidly as a distributor to grocery stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Quinn and his two brothers ran the business.

"Each of us had a different area of interest within the company, and we never had a cross word," he said.

After selling the business in 1987, Quinn and his brothers continue to operate their business interests from their farm.

He credits much of the success to Rita, his wife of 51 years, who traveled with Quinn to meetings in Winston-Salem. They have two children and three grandchildren.

"Rita and I are a team," he said.

In addition to Baptist Hospital, Quinn is active in his community where he served as chairman of the Duplin County Board of Commissioners and president of the Business and Industry Group of Eastern North Carolina. He has served as vice president of the North Carolina Jaycees and on the board of trustees of his alma mater, Barton College.

Today, he looks back on 39 years of service with Baptist Hospital with emotion.

"It's been a wonderful experience," he said. "While we share in accomplishments of a humanitarian organization, we are confident that we followed our Christian heritage by providing a faith-based healing ministry that has gloried our Lord."