Obituary - Bill Quick, 14 October 1933 – 3 September 2013


Bill Quick, 14 October 1933 – 3 September 2013
Bill Quick was a true "tunnel stiff", writes Jack Burke, for TunnelTalk; born in Penrose, Colorado, raised in California and Alaska to a family of tunnel people that included his father, grandfather and an uncle (Clarence) who was killed while excavating the Brooklyn Battery tunnel in New York.
Bill started his career early, going to Alaska to homestead a claim for a mine. After a few years he was drafted out of Anchorage and served in the US Army between May 1954 and May 1956, stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, before joining his first civil tunnel project in California. And so started a 57-year plus underground career that included projects in most of the 48 mainland states of the USA, as well as Alaska, Canada, Africa, Europe, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand - increasing his knowledge by attending night classes and taking part in correspondence courses simultaneously with working on the different sites.
Bill Quick (right) with friends Jack Burke (left) and Brian Burke (centre) at the pre-Beaverdilly golf tournament in California just a month before he died

Bill Quick (right) with friends Jack Burke (left) and Brian Burke (centre) at the pre-Beaverdilly golf tournament in California just a month before he died

Projects he was involved in included the Caldecott Tunnel No. 1 in California, the first TBM job in new York together with John Hester, WMATA in Washington DC, Big Dig in Boston, tackling bad ground on the compressed air tunnel project in Atlanta, and there are many examples of Bill taking over a troubled job and bringing it home safely. Never being a 'yes' man, and cantankerous at times, made him the person he was; respect for others, loyalty, and being truthful to a fault at times, were his trademarks. He learned the industry the hard way and constantly improved the conditions on every job he handled whether it be as a drill runner, mucker operator, or master mechanic; he was proficient in every respect.
Bill's final retirement allowed him to finish rebuilding his home in Talmo, Georgia, and what a job he did, a perfect example of the man. Just before he died he attended the California Beaverdilly, and the pre Dilly golf tournament, with friends - and it was shortly after this he was taken ill with double pneumonia that, sadly, was linked to inoperable breathing and lung complaints caused by working for a large portion of his life in underground conditions that in his early career were not monitored in the way that they would be today.
It was three days after we returned from California, on August 16, that I received a call from Bill advising he was down with double pneumonia in hospital. We talked daily, and on September 1 Bill called to advise that his condition was inoperable. His final words, going into a hospice, were just to say he wanted me to know he was going out in style having shot an 83 at Silverado, including an eagle, and was the low scoring member of the foursome. No regrets.
I shall miss him more than I can ever describe; 50 years of arguing politics is a long time.
The following are only a few of the multitude of eulogies received from friends, co-workers, engineering firms, and others who regarded his chosen endeavors highly.
John Hester, Construction Manager, Channel Tunnel
"As I sit here today in my home in southeast England, shortly after the death of my great friend, Bill Quick, I have trouble trying to think of words which will do any justice to the man and his family. I could probably host a gathering of his many friends and we could tell “Bill Quick stories" for hours and hours. I know that, if I had the talent, I could write a book about our experiences together.
The first thing that comes to mind was Bill's diversity of interests, his ability to adapt to any situation, and the capacity he had to put maximum effort into every endeavor. Bill and I both believed that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses and vice versa. Bill knew he was stubborn and uncompromising, but can anyone name a successful man, or woman, who was not. Another side of Bill was a man who could prance around in a showground with a little Corgi dog on a leash. At one time he and Marge raised and trained 19 of these little dogs."
Lok Home President and CEO, The Robbins Company
"This is real sad news. I regret not knowing Bill was ill. He and I became good friends over the last years; he was one of the best TBM tunnelers we had in the USA. Practical, no "bull", and a get it done guy."
Joe Sperry President P.E. Sperry Consultants
"I'm so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He was surely one of the greatest guys I've ever know and a great tunneller. I feel so fortunate to have spent time with him just a few weeks ago at the Dilly golf tournament. I don't get teary very often, but I am now."
Don Gillis President, Heavy Civil Division, The Walsh Group
"I met Bill around 1975. Our paths crossed many times over the years, including when he was driving the compressed air tunnel in Atlanta. He did some freelance estimating for us about two years after he moved back to Atlanta. I feel like a piece of the industry is missing. I feel a great sense of loss."
Jim Marquardt, VP, J.F. Shea
"I am in shock. Just three weeks ago we were having breakfast at the Beaverdilly. Bill was a great tunnel man and I had the good fortune of working with him on different projects. I will miss him."
Joe Bhore, President, Joginder Bhore Consulting
"I will miss my good friend, who was a great tunnel hand."
Mike Daigh, President Daigh Company Inc.
"I first met Bill when he came to Atlanta with Corson Gruman in 1976-1977 to do the pilot tunnel for Marta before the large cavern job. I was the local Gardner Denver distributor in Atlanta and I was introduced to Bill. We got to know him quite well; he was a great person to work with. We did not cross paths much until he moved back to Atlanta and we had formed a tunnel stiff's golf group, with Bill among our number. We all were together for pre Dilly golf followed by the Beaverdilly."


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