Jarus W. Quinn was born in West Grove, Pa. in 1930. As a boy he was greatly influenced by the programs at the city's Franklin Institute. Quinn received a B.S. from St. Joseph’s University in 1952 and for the next three years did graduate work at Johns Hopkins University. He completed his Ph.D. in physics at Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1964. Quinn served on the physics faculty at CUA and performed studies in molecular spectroscopy.
In 1969 Quinn left CUA to join OSA in the newly created position of executive director. He assisted then executive secretary Mary Warga in managing the growing society. At the time OSA published four journals, held two meetings a year and members numbered just over 5800. Quinn’s duties included managing the Executive Office, arranging scientific meetings, serving as liaison with the Technical Council, arranging meetings for the Board of Directors, overseeing OSA’s 23 ad hoc committees and reporting to the Board semi-annually.
With Warga’s retirement in 1972 Quinn began his 24-year tenure as OSA’s first executive director. During these years Quinn skillfully managed the organization’s expansion both in programming and staff. He also oversaw the society’s several moves to prime locations in Washington D.C. and the creation of a permanent headquarters in the early 1990s.
When Quinn retired in 1993 OSA employed nearly 90 staffers, served just over 12,000 members, and published 7 journals. The budget had grown to approximately $14 million. As the research and development of optics transformed from basic science and a few applications to entire industries powered by lasers, electro-optics, and fiberoptics, Quinn directed all aspects of the society from publications to meetings development.
He played a significant role in the development of the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics. Recognizing the importance of addressing emerging technical areas, Quinn helped establish OSA’s technical groups and expanded the society’s topical meeting offerings. He was also instrumental in creating OSA’s membership magazine Optics & Photonics News.
Those who worked with Quinn have noted his graciousness, sensible approach, and dedication to those working to advance optical sciences. When he received OSA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1993 he was honored for his enthusiastic service and leadership in the scientific community as well as for his service as OSA’s executive director. The same year, Quinn received Laurin Publishing’s first Distinction in Photonics Award which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the industry.
Upon Quinn’s retirement, members raised funds for the Jarus W. Quinn Ives Medal Endowment in recognition of Quinn’s service to the society.
Jarus Quinn is survived by his wife Peggy, five children and seven grandchildren.