Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Grace Quinn, Co-Founder of Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center, Dead at 91
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Funeral arrangements remained pending yesterday for attorney Grace Quinn, co-founder of the Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center in Los Angeles, a spokesperson said.
Quinn died Sunday of pneumonia and congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sanai Medical Center, a family friend said. She was 91.
When Quinn was 66, in 1981, she started the center, along with her law partner Ethel Levitt and Ziva Naumann, to provide low-cost legal services to those who could not afford a regular attorney. The three women were featured in a 1990 segment of CBS’ “60 Minutes” entitled “My Grandmother, the Lawyer.”
In August, Quinn told the Jewish Journal:
“Life was good to me. I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to give something back.”
Naumann described Quinn to the MetNews as “the most compassionate and genuine human being.” Naumann said that she continued to have lunch with Quinn at least once a week and the two would talk about what books they were reading.
Quinn was so alert and such good company, Naumann said, that it made her think “growing old is not that bad.”
Naumann said she learned of Quinn’s death from son Tom Quinn, current chairman of City News Service and former top aide to then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who called her about an hour after Quinn died.
Richard Bloom recalled that when he became the center’s executive director a year ago, he was told to “go meet Grace.” He said the two had a nice chat, but it quickly became apparent that he was there so that Quinn could “check [him] out” to make sure he was on board with the center’s mission.
He said that Quinn “touched the lives of tens of thousands of people in Los Angeles” and is going to be “fondly remembered.”
Quinn graduated from Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles during the Depression. She recalled for the Jewish Journal that she was only able to attend law school because she got a job as registrar for the dean of Pacific Coast University College of Law, and was allowed to attend night classes for free.
She passed the California bar exam in 1937 and retired from practice in 2001.
Quinn married Joe Quinn, then a journalist for United Press, in 1941. They bought City News Service in the early 1950s.
Joe Quinn, who served as Los Angeles deputy mayor under Sam Yorty from 1961 until 1973, died in 1979. The family still owns City News Service.
Quinn told the Jewish Journal that “it was time to go back to work” after her husband died, so she started at Legal Aid. After federal funding cutbacks, she and her partners decided to open their own firm to provide legal help to the working poor who had nowhere else to turn for help.
The three originally set up shop in a store front building with barred windows in Silver Lake. About 10 years ago they moved to their current location on Beverly Boulevard.
A 1993 Los Angeles Times article noted that neither Levitt nor Quinn was ever paid for their work at the center. It quoted Quinn as saying:
“You’re not supposed to make money in this line of work.”
Last month, Quinn and Naumann attended a re-dedication of the center’s building, now called the “Ziva Building,” in honor of Naumann, who served as the center’s business manager.
The Los Angeles County Commission for Women named Quinn “Woman of the Year” in 1992.
Bloom said the center continues to help about 1,000 people every year. The center now has six attorneys and a five-member support staff.
Fundraising dinners bring in much of the annual budget that Bloom said he expects will soon top $1 million. The next dinner will be Nov. 18 at the Skirball Center where 400 people are expected to celebrate the firm’s 25th anniversary.
Quinn is survived by sons Tom Quinn and Bob Quinn, both of Los Angeles, one stepson and 10 grandchildren.
The family requests that donations in Quinn’s name be made to Levitt and Quinn Family Law Center of Los Angeles.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company