Beneath McQuinn’s edginess lived ‘a golden retriever’


Behind Matt McQuinn’s sunglasses, behind the edgy, pierced look he showed to the world was a man with a mischievous sense of humor and a golden retriever’s warmth, his uncle told a memorial service Saturday morning at Springfield’s Maiden Lane Church of God.

Pastor Herb Shaffer said his 27-year-old nephew called the oversized shades he pushed up on his head his “man tiara,” an anecdote that spoke about the person whose striking eyes and mugging demeanor have been seen on broadcasts and in newspapers since July 20, when McQuinn died saving his girlfriend from a slaughter in an Aurora, Colo., multiplex.

Steps away from her boyfriend’s edgily dressed body, Samantha Yowler, of St. Paris, rested her wounded leg on a chair during the ceremony that gave way to an 80-car procession to Lawrenceville Cemetery, where McQuinn was buried.

The Vandalia Butler High School graduate was killed by three gunshot wounds he suffered as he shielded Yowler during the attack that killed 12 and wounded 52.

“In moments of crisis, the true character of a person comes out,” said Shaffer, a brother of McQuinn’s mother, Jerri Jackson, of Springfield. “You don’t have time to think of what you’re going to do.”

McQuinn’s “immediate response,” said Shaffer, “was to protect the one he loved.”

Shaffer and Maiden Lane Pastor Mark Martin cast McQuinn’s self-sacrifice in context with two Biblical passages, one from Galatians saying the only things of lasting value involve “faith expressing itself in love” and another from the Gospel of John stating that “no greater love has one man than this: that he laid down his life for his friends.”

“We didn’t just see that (from McQuinn) on July 20,” Shaffer said.

With a family photo on a screen, Shaffer pointed out McQuinn as a child comforting his cousin, Amber, who was having a bad day when the families were out on a hike.

“Even at 7 years old, Matt … could pick up on that kind of thing,” Shaffer said.

He added that, as a young man, his nephew sometimes dressed in a way that “made you want to cross to the other side of the street. But then he opened up his mouth, and he couldn’t betray who he was.”

McQuinn teased those he loved mercilessly and “you never knew what he was going to say,” Shaffer said. “He was the only one I’ve ever seen who could speak to my dad the way he did and get away with it.”

The reason, he said, was that there was “never any malice” in McQuinn, only “a contagious enjoyment of life” and “an exuberance … that added value to others’ lives.”

“Underneath there,” said Shaffer, “(was) a golden retriever.”

Telling grieving friends and relatives “there are no easy answers” and that “this is not the time for platitudes,” Shaffer advised that “the only way to the other side of grief is through it.”

“We cannot do it alone,” he added. “So let’s make a commitment to one another to embrace the pain of saying goodbye today, to feel it together, to cry together to laugh together, to be angry together.”

“Our lives will never be the same,” he said. “The words Aurora, Cinema 16 shooting, Batman, will never mean the same again,” he added, and likely will serve as reminders of the hurt.

But with time, he said, “it will be good again” and “the very things that cause us pain now will become brighter and stronger and better for the rest of our lives.”

All who knew McQuinn “live with a commitment to be better because of his sacrifice,” said Shaffer, who urged his audience “to pray for those who are left … pray for the families that are left and … be better people.”

Outside the church, the media kept a respectful distance, and in the balcony of the church a reporter from the Denver Post said the entire Denver community has grieved.

“This has torn us up,” said Ray Rinaldi.

Pastor Martin thanked those who “have given of our time, given of yourselves” in offering comfort to the family and those who contributed to the church’s fund to help in the expenses of McQuinn’s burial.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Black Friday deals: Here’s what we found today
Black Friday deals: Here’s what we found today

Shoppers are already out finding the best deals at big box retailers on Black Friday. Retailers like Target and Walmart opened last night on Thanksgiving, offering major deals for shoppers. Cabela’s opened again at 6 a.m. today, and gave away prizes to the first 600 customers in line. These are the best deals we’ve found so far:
Ohio lawmaker wants to limit child marriage
Ohio lawmaker wants to limit child marriage

Efforts to reform Ohio’s child marriage laws, which currently allow children of any age to marry if they obtain parental and judicial consent, could get tangled up in politics over gay marriage, lawmakers say. A Dayton Daily News investigation detailed more than 4,400 girls under 18 married in Ohio over the past 15 years, including 59 girls who...
Colin Kaepernick surprise guest at 'Unthanksgiving Day' on Alcatraz
Colin Kaepernick surprise guest at 'Unthanksgiving Day' on Alcatraz

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made a surprise appearance at the Alcatraz Indigenous People's Sunrise Gathering on Thursday, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. A tradition in California since 1975, the annual dawn festivities, also known as Unthanksgiving Day, commemorate the occupation of Alcatraz by American...
Love sweets? 4 local candy shops to check out
Love sweets? 4 local candy shops to check out

Have a sweet tooth? So do we. Luckily for all of us, there are a slew of candy shops in the Miami Valley to check out. Here are some favorites.  (Pro Tip: Candy makes a great stocking stuffer.) They’re known for their gourmet cotton candy, but they’ve got several sweet treats to try, including Sweet Tart Chews, rock candy, gummies...
What Ohio wine pairs best with Wolverine meat? We have the answer!
What Ohio wine pairs best with Wolverine meat? We have the answer!

The Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry has been a wee bit lopsided in recent years — thank you, Urban Meyer, and thank YOU as well, Jim Harbaugh — so since this Buckeye fan and OSU alum has a keen interest in food and wine as well as football, that leads us to one and only one question as the two teams prepare to battle on Saturday: What...
More Stories