Remembering Longtime EWU Geography Professor Bob Quinn

Bob Quinn, PhD (1942-2021).

Bob Quinn, PhD, who spent nearly 50 years teaching at EWU, passed away Oct. 10, following a three-and-a-half year battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was 79.

Quinn, who earned both undergrad and graduate degrees from Oregon State University first came to Cheney as a 25-year-old in 1968. He was answering a magazine advertisement seeking a Professor of Geography at what was then Eastern Washington State College. He would stay at Eastern until his retirement in 2016.

Despite not yet having his PhD at the time, Quinn was hired by Department Chair Dale Stradling, who also granted him tenure just a year later. Quinn went on to earn his doctorate at OSU and would retire 49 years later in 2016 after teaching Geography 100, Meteorology, Oceanography, Climatology and Atmospheric Science in Eastern’s Earth Science/Geography Department.

Bob Quinn weather station outside Isle Hall.
Weather station plaque honoring Bob Quinn

Quinn was first bitten by the weather bug after taking classes at L.A. City College. He told his mother “I’m not sure that I can spell meteorologist, but I want to be one.” Quinn would go on to become one of the premiere long-range forecasters in the nation, and the weather station outside Isle Hall on the EWU campus is even named in his honor.

Among many notable accomplishments, Quinn served during the administration of President Bill Clinton on the U.S. Air Quality Task Force. In 2008 he was honored with the Ralph Munro Longevity Award.

In addition to work inside the classroom walls, Bob was also instrumental in designing the Wetland program at Eastern and taught that even in retirement. He became the “go-to” wetland consultant for Spokane County years ago and will be greatly missed in that capacity. 

Having grown up in L.A. and late arriving to the game, Quinn served many years as the faculty advisor for EWU’s hockey team and was a big Spokane Chiefs fan. Bob also became an avid EWU sports fan, rarely missing football, basketball and/or volleyball games always sitting in the same seats for years.

Quinn was also an avid hunter and fisherman, pursuits he learned and enjoyed with his father. Quinn grew up having the Hollywood Hills as his playground thus beginning his love of the outdoors and that drove his passion for weather. He also loved his “indoor sport” of playing craps at Northern Quest Casino and being part of a regular golf group at The Fairways’ EWU Summer Golf League.

Quinn was a history buff of the highest order, especially World War I. His knowledge was massive. Bob and Sue had many talks about history, a love they both shared. He enjoyed Sue’s reading excerpts from the WW I diary of her grandfather. Bob loved to watch war movies with the sound turned up loud “so he could hear the roar of airplane engines.” 

Quinn is survived by his wife of 30 years, Sue, as well as his two daughters and step-daughter and extended family.

Services for Quinn will take place Saturday, Oct. 30, 1 p.m. at the Cheney Funeral Chapel. Donations can be made to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation (

*Freelance writer Paul Delaney, who frequently interviewed Quinn for stories on long-range weather forecasts for the Cheney Free Press, authored this obituary.

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