Joseph A. Quinlan Print E-mail

Joseph A. Quinlan, Esq.

Former longtime Assistant District Attorney Commonwealth of Mass;

Joseph A. Quinlan, Esq., 61, of Swampscott, but always of Lowell, passed away peacefully Wednesday afternoon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after a brief illness.

A member of a well-known Lowell Highlands family, Joe was born in Lowell on April 6, 1958, a son of the late Thomas J. and the late Amalia (Serio) Quinlan.

He attended St. Margaret’s Grammar school and was a proud graduate of Lowell High School, Class of 1976. He went on to attend U/Mass Amherst where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in both Journalism and Political Science in 1980.

Joe later went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from Western New England Law School in 1988.

Professionally, he began his career as a reporter for the Associated Press. After law school, Joe became a prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where he served as an Assistant District Attorney for over 28 years in Hampden, Middlesex and Worcester Counties and the Northwestern District.

Following his retirement, Joe served the State of New Hampshire as a prosecutor for both Carroll and Hillsborough Counties.

Over the course of his career, Joe received several professional awards for his accomplishments. In 2008, he was presented the William C. O'Malley Award as Prosecutor of the Year for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He received an Appreciation Recognition at the 15th Annual Massachusetts Missing Children's Day in 2015 and another Appreciation Recognition from the Greenfield Police Department in 2000. 

Joe was a member of several professional associations, among them, the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Bar Associations, the Mass Board of Bar Overseers Supreme Judicial Court and was a student and faculty member at the National District Attorney Association Trial Advocacy Program at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition, he was a faculty member for the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.

Among his many passions and interests, Joe was a photographer, specializing in black and white photography and for a time had a studio at Western Avenue in Lowell. He also enjoyed camping, gardening, running, and he ran twice in the Boston Marathon.

However, Joe’s greatest joy was being a father and spending time with his children.

Joe is survived by his three children Sally, Will and Teddy Quinlan of West Boylston; his four siblings: Amalia M. Quinlan and her husband Daniel Devine of Buffalo, NY, Thomas A. Quinlan of New Bedford, Helen Q. Littlefield and her husband Robert of Lowell and Marian R. Walsh and her husband Gary of Mount Dora, FL; his fiancée, Mary Anne Lenihan of Swampscott, many nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews and cousins, and his godmother Marie Serio of Tonawanda, NY.

Friends may call at the O’DONNELL FUNERAL HOME 276 PAWTUCKET ST. in LOWELL from 3 to 8 P.M. Tuesday. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Funeral Mass to be celebrated Wednesday morning at the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH in LOWELL at 12 o’clock NOON followed by his burial at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. E-condolences/directions at Those wishing may make contributions in his memory to the Jimmy Fund, c/o the Dana Farber Institute, 450 Brookline Ave. West, Boston, MA 02215. Arrangements by Funeral Director James F. O’Donnell, Jr. (978) 458-8768.

Condolences (7)
  • Tom Kenney  - Heartfelt condolences
    Marian and Quinlan Family, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Joe. We ran track together at Lowell High and were freshman roommates at UMass Amherst. Joe was always a good friend with upstanding character. Joe's smiling face in that old gray station wagon that he drove in high school (before a lot of us had cars) is fixed in my memory. After reading about his remarkable life, I regret that we didn't reconnect in our later years. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
  • Leo Peloquin
    Very fortunately, I met Joe as a student at UMass-Amherst in 1975 who wanted to do some work for the Daily Collegian. If not for Joe, I would have walked out of the office within moments of when I walked in. But Joe, who was an Editor at the time and had the same smile he always wore, could not have been more welcoming and encouraging. He gave me assignments to get my feet wet without scaring me away. Although I lost touch with Joe after graduation, I still remember how he helped me. Joe is one of those characters who I will always remember. He touched my life and a lot of lives more than he will ever know. God Bless Joe and his family at this time of grief.
  • Eileen Kirwin
    Marian and family, So sorry to hear of the loss of your brother. Please accept my condolences.
  • Michael D McHugh  - Joe Quinlan s personality traits
    I first met Joe Quinlan in 1976 at UMass-Amherst. For the next 43 years, we lived in a parallel universe as newspaper reporters, law students, and Assistant District Attorneys. Joe's personality traits: selfless, loyal, gregarious, tenacious and magnanimous (forgave his 1989 attacker John Mace) was what separated him from others. I will miss our long phone conversations about politics, family, and the law, but most importantly I will miss him. I am a better person for having met and known Joe Quinlan. My thoughts and prayers to the Quinlan family.
  • Michael D McHugh  - Joe Quinlan
    I first met Joe in 1976 at UMass-Amherst. He was a working class Irish-Catholic kid from Lowell and I had a similar background from Worcester. For the next 43 years we lived in a parallel universe as newspaper reporters, law school students at WNEC and Assistant District Attorneys. Truth be told, he was a better reporter and prosecutor than me. Joe's personality traits: selfless, gregarious, tenacious, loyal, and magnanimous (forgiving John Mace)were what set him apart from others. I am a better person for having met Joe Quinlan. I have a hole in my heart. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Quinlan family.
  • Paul Basken
    I worked with Joe at the AP in Springfield in the 80s, learned a lot of the right things from him, and am always grateful to him for that -- He was a genuinely nice guy, and he was tough, completely righteous in the best non-sanctimonious meaning of the word... Absolutely the type of person we need more of...
  • Tom Landry
    My heartfelt condolences go to Joe's family and friends. It was my pleasure to know Joe as a professional colleague and friend in the Worcester County District Attorney's Office. Joe was passionate about his profession and always demonstrated the highest standards of ethics and integrity. I enjoyed our many discussions about our shared roles as assistant district attorneys. Joe was just a great guy. He will be sorely missed. Thank you, Joe, for your dedicated service and your friendship.
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