Plateau mourns loss of the mighty Hillrie Quin

Hillrie Marshall Quin, Jr., age 76, passed away at home in Highlands from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on March 12, 2020. Friends and family said Quin will be remembered for his love of nature and willingness to help others.

Editor’s Note: I first met Hillrie around 2007 when I covered the installation of the stone stairs along the Highlands Plateau Greenway just below the Rec Park. Hillrie and other volunteers used wheelbarrows and rope to move these huge boulders into place to form the steps. He was indeed a mighty man and he will be sorely missed.

Hillrie’s wife Bev met him in 1970 when they were both working at a phone company in Atlanta, then they were married in 1971. She said Hillrie had a passion for the outdoors and helping others, which is evident from his heavy involvement in the Greenway and mission work in Bolivia for a program called Living Waters for the World that installs clean water systems in small villages.

“Any problem he saw, he faced it head on and tackled it,” said Bev. “And he’d usually solve it.”

Hillrie Quin loved nature and spearheaded numerous conservation projects throughout the Plateau over the years.

Longtime friend Ran Shafner said Hillrie’s final words to him were “See you in Heaven.”

“I’ve known Hillrie for almost four decades, and if Heaven harbors any corners where chaos might reign, Hillrie will organize it,” said Shaffner. “He’ll set aside sections for preservation, build greenway trails for connectivity, climb mountains for clearer perspectives on human relationships, and fill the skies with his laughter. He was a trusted advisor, a sincere empathizer, and an authentic friend who has left a painful void in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.”

He added that Hillrie lives on in the hearts of those he left behind.

“The indelible memory of his creative energy and his enthusiasm to achieve anything worth the fight is itself an afterlife on Earth,” said Shaffner. “Hillrie was charmingly irrepressible.”

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Executive Director Gary Wein has known Hillrie since 2006 and has collaborated many times over the years between the HCLT and Greenway.  Wein said Hillrie was a “Prince of a man.”

“I used to describe Hillrie as a train engine,” said Wein. “You never stand in front of a moving train driven by Hillrie, but if you were smart you got on the caboose. It was going to be an interesting and productive ride. He will be greatly missed.”

Bev said Hillrie’s passion for nature began as a teenager in a military family living in Germany. She said that passion only increased when they moved back to Highlands, Bev’s hometown.

“I’d say what he loved most about Highlands was the nature, all parts of nature; birds, skies, mountains, rivers, all parts. To say nothing of the people, he loved the people here. He convinced me to come back home, and I’m glad he did.”

HCLT Stewardship Coordinator and friend Kyle Pursel said Hillrie was a great conservationist, having personally conserved two properties, one of which (Rhododendron Park on Big Bearpen Mountain), now has public trails, which Hillrie spearheaded the project’s design and construction.

Pursel added that Hillrie helped conserve countless other properties during his time as an HCLT board member.

“He was instrumental in starting, shepherding, and improving the Highlands Plateau Greenway system,” said Pursel. “To me personally, he was a bit of mentor by being one of the ones to teach me trail building techniques and general life advice over the 10 years I’ve known him. The Plateau has lost a great champion of conservation and public recreation, and a great friend to many.”

Hillrie Quin thanks volunteers on July 6, 2018 for helping to make the Greenway and HCLT joint project of creating an alternative route to the summit of Satulah Mountain possible. To read more about click HERE.

Rev. Emily Wilmarth said Hillrie chaired the Pastor Search Committee that called her and co-pastor, Curtis Fussell to First Presbyterian Church in Highlands six years ago.

“Throughout the process of interviewing and visiting, it became very evident very quickly that Hillrie was someone who got things done,” said Wilmarth. “If he wanted it done, he made it happen. I really liked the church as I was interviewing, and I was really hopeful about coming here. It felt really good to have Hillrie’s enthusiasm for me, too!”

Drew Weigner worked with Hillrie on the Greenway and said if you knew him, you knew what a special person and great guy Hillrie was. Weigner visited Hillrie last week and said he was still smiling.

“That was the last time I saw him, and while I’m saddened to lose him, there’s a part of him that’s still with me,” said Weigner. “The grace, the altruism, the leadership qualities are now part of me. And in that way, he lives on in all of us. We’re all better off knowing Hillrie, and I can’t think of a finer legacy.”

Hillrie Quin obituary

Hillrie Marshall Quin, Jr., age 76, passed away at home in Highlands from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on March 12, 2020.

Hillrie was born in Texarkana, AR to Vera Wilson Quin and Hillrie Marshall Quin. Hillrie grew up on Army bases in Texarkana, Atlanta, Okinawa, Arlington and Petersburg, VA and Germany. He received Bachelors and Masters degrees from Georgia State University. He worked for Southern Bell, then Bell South, handling a variety of positions in the company.

He retired from Bell South and went to work the next day for the Conservation Fund. He later worked for the National Wildlife Federation as the Regional Organizer for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In 2003, Hillrie and his wife, Beverly Cook Quin, moved to Highlands full time.

Hillrie was an active conservationist and community member throughout his life. In addition to his career work, he was a dynamic member of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, the Audubon Society, the Macon Beekeepers Association, the Highlands Biological Station, the Wharton Conservation Center in Tate City, Georgia, and board member of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust.

He was the founding president of the Highlands Plateau Greenway. He belonged to the Rotary Club, and was president of the Highlands Mountaintop Rotary (2013-2014). Hillrie was an active member and elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Highlands. With the church’s mission ministry, he helped build clean water systems in five small communities in Bolivia. He later served on the board of the Highlands Bolivian Mission.

Hillrie is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, his sister, Ann Quin Sutherland, his daughter, Amanda Lynn Quin, his son, Hillrie Marshall Quin, III (Estella Chen Quin), and his grandson, Peter Robert Quin. He is also survived by a host of other loving relatives and friends.

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Highlands on a date to be determined.

Article by Brian O’Shea
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4 thoughts on “Plateau mourns loss of the mighty Hillrie Quin

  1. Beautiful tribute, and thank you for writing it so completely. He was clearly a dear friend to Nature and all he knew along his journey. Many will enjoy the years of dedication he set forth in the Highlands area, as well as other places noted here. Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant! Most of all, he was a mentor to us left behind.

  2. My dad always put in one more day of work than he was asked. He provided everything my sister and I ever needed and helped prepare us for the challenges that every life must face. I still have trouble grasping that he’s not with us in this material world, but will do all I can to one day see him again in the Kingdom we are able to enter from our faith and service to Christ our Lord. Your son, Marshall

  3. My Dad was the most loving and caring person you could know helping others was he’s nature . My Dad had the Biggest Hugs and the biggest 💗 . I miss him sooo. His daughter Amanda.

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