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John F. Quinlivan, 90, retired South Division fire chief
April 28, 1917 -- Nov. 12, 2007

John F. Quinlivan, retired Buffalo Fire Department South Division chief, died Monday in his South Buffalo home after a brief illness. He was 90.

Chief Quinlivan was named to the department's highest civil service rank in 1971 and served in the post for seven years, retiring in 1978.

A 37-year veteran of the department, he was promoted to lieutenant in 1951 and captain in 1958 before serving for five years as department training chief. In 1966, he became a battalion chief.

A lifelong resident of South Buffalo, he was a 1933 graduate of South Park High School and a 1937 graduate of Buffalo State Teachers College, where he majored in industrial arts education.

Unable to find a teaching job during the last years of the Depression, he worked at the General Motors River Road plant in the Town of Tonawanda, then passed the exam for the Buffalo Fire Department. He served in the Army Air Forces as a B-29 bomber pilot flying the Hump in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II.

He earned numerous medals and citations for combat service and fire service.

His wife of 53 years, the former Patricia Avolt, said that Chief Quinlivan built their garage and patio and the addition to their home, adding: "He could fix anything. We have all the original things -- stove, refrigerator. Anything that broke, he could fix it."

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, John P., who is a lieutenant with the Buffalo Fire Department; three daughters, Kathleen Gregg, Mary Lambert and Nora Lin; and a brother, Joseph.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 450 Abbott Road.


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