William J. Quinn, American railroad executive, Died at 104

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William John Quinn was born on May 8, 1911, and died on October 24, 2015.

He was a 20th-century American railroad executive.

William was an attorney for the Soo Line before joining the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad in 1954 and later from 1957 to 1966, served as President.

In 1966, William became president of the Burlington Railroad.

William later returned to the Milwaukee Road, where he was chairman from 1970 until shortly after it went bankrupt in December 1977.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, William earned an undergraduate degree from the University of St. Thomas in 1933 and then earned a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1935.

After law school, William worked in private law practice in Minnesota and as an assistant U.S. attorney.

William then took a job with the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad as an in-house attorney.

During World War II, William was posted to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a counterespionage agent.

After the war, he returned to the Soo Line.

In 1954 the Milwaukee Road recruited William to join the railroad as a general solicitor.

By 1958 he had risen up to become the railroad’s president. William left the Milwaukee Road in 1966 to become president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy.

He returned to the Milwaukee Road in 1970 as chairman, shortly after the CB&Q merged with several related lines.

William was the last leader of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and was involved in its notorious scheme of de-electrification in 1972, right before the 1973 oil crisis.

This and the general collapse of the road in the 1960s led to the final bankruptcy of the famous Milwaukee Road.

William retired in 1978. He passed away in Glenview, Illinois at the age of 104.

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