PAT NEAL COLUMN: A giant and a kindred spirit in Tim Quinn

“There were giants in the earth . . .”

— Genesis 6:1-4

It’s been my privilege to know some of the giants, although it was strange the way I met Tim Quinn.

We were both freelancing for the weekly Sequim Gazette.

“Freelance” is a newspaper term for “unemployed.”

Tim drew some kind of a weekly cartoon.

I wrote some kind of a weekly column that was stuck under Tim’s cartoon.

Once in awhile I’d check out the newspaper to see if they were still printing my stuff.

It was weird how many times the subject of his cartoon was the same as the subject in my column.

I had never met the guy, but we were making fun of the same things — the Sequim elk, the Sequim drivers, the Dungeness River, the spotted owl, the barred owl, slugs, the weather — and when all else failed, the government.

I had found a kindred spirit.

Tim was another slave to the deadline, the bane of freelancers everywhere.

Misery loves company.

I talked to Tim as the weekly deadline loomed.

Being an artist can be a slow form of starvation.

Being a freelance artist on the North Olympic Peninsula can be tougher than that.

Tim described his plans for retirement.

When he got too old to pay his rent, he said, he was going to throw a brick

through the front window of the police station.

The police would arrest Tim, give him new clothes, three hots and a cot, TV and medical care for the duration.

Meanwhile, Tim would meet a lot of new friends and have time for his art.

Tim was a visionary ahead of his time.

As an artist, he had talent, but it takes more than that to survive.

Tim was prolific in many media, from cartoons and murals to woodcarving and sculpture.

Some of his work was controversial.

How many artists have their work banned by the government?

Tim was proud of that.

That was during his sand sculpture period.

He had sculpted portraits in the cliffs of Sequim Bay.

Tim was accused of causing erosion in the cliffs and real estate values. We don’t stand for that sort of thing in Sequim.

Over the years, while Tim was drawing his weekly cartoon, Sequim had grown from a sleepy little farm town to a paradise of box stores, trailer parks and traffic circles.

We didn’t need an artist to ruin it all for everyone.

Tim got a law passed against his sculptures.

I asked Tim how he could keep working after getting stomped like that.

He said the whole thing was free advertising. That was during his broke period.

Tim described his life in terms both bleak and real. He looked at himself with a long distance view.

That is, if someone from the East Coast was looking to head west, they might dream of being an artist on the West Coast.

Tim was living the dream.

He gave thanks for what he had. He did not quit.

Tim compared his life to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus fed thousands of hungry people in the wilderness with a pitiful store of limited resources.

Tim explained that he often had no idea where his next gig was coming from, but then it would show up out of nowhere.

Tim’s life was an answer to his prayers.

Serving food to the hungry in the wilderness is a miracle. Jesus performed this miracle twice.

Creating art in a cultural wilderness is another sort of miracle. Tim performed that one every week.

If I said it once, I said it a million times: “Thanks, Tim.”


Services are pending for Mr. Quinn, 62, who was found dead apparently of natural causes in his Sequim residence last Saturday. His obituary appeared in Monday’s editions.

His friend, Pat Neal, is a North Olympic Peninsula fishing guide and humorist whose column appears every Wednesday.

Pat can be reached at 360-683-9867 or

The “Pat Neal WildLife Show” is on radio KSQM 91.5 FM ( at 9 a.m. Saturdays, repeated at 6 p.m. Tuesdays.

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