Last January, Quince died aged 62 and became one of hundreds of people whose remains lingered in a temporary morgue that was opened during the height of New York’s battle against the coronavirus but is still functioning. over a year later.
“She was an inspiration,” says Michele Callahan, a staff member at Staten Island College who helped Quince apply for the scholarship she won from the Women’s Forum in New York. “She wanted to help everyone and everything. “
The city’s medical examiner’s office, which runs the temporary morgue, did not respond to an investigation into Quince’s cause of death. Although the facility was set up to handle a wave of deaths from COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, it now holds the bodies of people who have died of various causes and awaits final arrangements.
Quince was buried last month in a private cemetery organized by Staten Island Public Administrator Edwina Frances Martin, an official who manages certain estates. His office said no relatives had shown up to make arrangements for Quince, and officials did not want to postpone his layoff any longer but could continue to try to connect with those closest to him. The agency is also releasing a list of his burials in case any family or friends are looking for information.
The Associated Press contacted his brother Paul, who said the family did not remain in close contact and was not aware of his death until a reporter contacted him.
After a difficult childhood on Staten Island, Quince left home very early and briefly pursued a military career in the late 1970s, said Paul Quince. She lived in places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, before eventually returning to New York City, he said.
She has struggled for decades with homelessness, drug use and other issues, according to her bio on the Women’s Forum website.
“She has had a difficult life,” her brother said, but “she always wanted to go to school”.
She was working there the last time he saw her, at lunch about five years ago, he said. She mentioned that she applied to college and applied for a scholarship.
Callahan said Diane Quince said she was nervous at first about going to college in her 60s.
But “I have found attention and support and encouragement,” Quince said in a June 2020 post the college wrote about him. “Above all, I found a goal. “
A good student who focused on English and writing, Quince also did a lot of volunteering, from fundraising for people living with HIV or AIDS to motivational conferences in a service organization. social, according to the College of Staten Island.
“She really liked talking to people. She wasn’t afraid to stand in front of a crowd and talk to them and give them hope to change whatever the circumstances, to do something positive, ”Callahan recalls.
Quince’s own goal was to work for nonprofit groups that help the homeless, especially women.
“I want to get them out of their terrible living conditions and help them see that there is hope,” she told the Women’s Forum.