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Remembering the extraordinary intellect and moral compass of Quentin Young

Margie Schaps
March 10, 2016
Health & Medicine's Executive Director Margie Schaps shared the following statement on the passing of our founder, Dr. Quentin D. Young. Additional remembrances can be found on our blog. To make a gift in memory of Dr. Young, please click here.

“Margie, what have we done today to fight the forces of reaction?” This is how I was greeted every morning by my colleague, my mentor, my friend Quentin Young at the office we shared for over 20 years at Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, where I served as the Executive Director and Quentin was the Chairman.

We’d get to work each day, sometimes beginning with talk about the County health system, sometimes the state, sometimes the nation.  No matter what problem we were trying to solve, Quentin always had a quote from Shakespeare or George Bernard Shaw that would illuminate the issue. Only Quentin could pull up those quotes at exactly the right moment. He taught me that there were always lessons in great literature.

Our days would fly by…we’d write op-ed pieces together, we’d call our legislators, we’d plan a conference, we’d think of ideas for radio interviews he should have on his regular WBEZ talk show. We’d dream big and make plans, and grow our circle of colleagues every day. And did I mention that Quentin was funny—he knew so many jokes and he never tired of telling them, and I never tired of hearing them. 

Quentin’s extraordinary intellect, his moral compass, combined with his total recall of history always led us to a clear path as we tried to solve the challenges in front of us.  He taught me that the lessons of history should never be forgotten—that fighting for social justice, for racial justice, for health justice is not new. We must learn from struggles that came before us, learn from the failures, and build upon the successes.

Quentin taught me to always stand in solidarity with the struggles of working men and women, that no rally was too small to attend, that any opportunity to get our message across was worth taking, that every individual injustice is an injustice to all of us.  In his words, you could get a lot accomplished if you didn’t have to take the credit and if you linked arms with others in struggle.

I will keep up the struggle, Quentin, and I will link arms with the thousands of people you taught and befriended, and I will share the lessons you taught me.  I will do this, but some of the joy will be gone without you to share it with.