February 12, 2002

Ricardo Quinn: Mr. Sandman

Jones Beach may not be the center of the universe, but it was the heart of Virginia and Ricardo Quinn's all-too-brief life together. They met there on a steamy, summer-in-the-city day in 1988 when he put his blanket on the sand near hers. Both were recently divorced and watching their little boys, who took to each other as quickly as did their parents. "Ric was playing with his son and I noticed him," Mrs. Quinn said. "I was checking him out."

They married just over a year later and kept coming back to Jones Beach. Their favorite spot was Field Six, where Mr. Quinn, 40, made life-size sand sculptures that drew crowds. "He used to make nudes," Mrs. Quinn said, "but they were very, very tasteful."

After serving in the Coast Guard as a young man, he held a few different jobs before finding his real calling as a paramedic with the Fire Department's Battalion 57 in Brooklyn. His partner, Joe Sanders, said he had a gentle way with people.

Paramedic Quinn was promoted to lieutenant after Sept. 11.

In late January, Mrs. Quinn left their home in Bayside, Queens, and boarded a Coast Guard cutter that took her three miles off Jones Beach. There, following Lieutenant Quinn's wishes, she spread his ashes on the waters he loved. Then the cutter returned to port. "It was a long, quiet ride back," Paramedic Sanders said.