Volunteers take care of unfinished business
Firefighters, contractor join in restoring widow’s home

By J.P. Ellery CORRESPONDENT


Guys on my husband’s Fire Department have just been terrific. They just all stepped up and said they’d do anything.
-- Mary Quinlan

BARRE — Just over a year ago when Worcester Fire Lt. Donald M. Quinlan died at age 52, he had lots of unfinished improvement projects started at his home on South Street in Barre.

Completing those tasks was the furthest thing from the mind of Mary Quinlan, his widow, who was deeply grieving her loss. Lt. Quinlan died March 22, 2008. Worcester firefighters made Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Worcester, a nationwide franchised company, aware of Mrs. Quinlan’s situation.

Owner Robert C. Stone jumped at the idea of helping out the Barre family. Beginning Friday, Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling employees and lots of volunteers started tackling the job of bringing all of Mr. Quinlan’s home improvements to fruition.

The estimated price tag for the work, according to Mr. Stone, is $100,000.

While Mrs. Quinlan is excited about this generosity, she said the happiness is tempered because these were her husband’s ideas he never saw completed, so there is some sadness involved, too.

“It’s kind of mixed emotions,” she said in a telephone interview. “When they contacted me about this (last year) and talked to me, it was pretty much in one ear and out the other, because I just had so much stuff going on. It was just overwhelming.”

Tragedy has entered Mrs. Quinlan’s life before. She lost her brother and sister-in-law, Paul J. and Marianne McManus of Cherry Valley, in a July 2007 plane crash in Alaska, and her son, Michael J. Dansereau, was killed in a car crash in 1996 at age 20.

Mrs. Quinlan said she is indebted to Mr. Stone, the volunteers, contractors and especially to the close-knit fraternity of Worcester firefighters.

“Guys on my husband’s Fire Department have just been terrific,” she said. “They just all stepped up and said they’d do anything.”

Mr. Stone said the local Paul Davis Remodeling and Restoration business, which he started in 1993, has been working hand-in-hand with Worcester firefighters in supporting a Worcester Memorial road race for the past five or six years.

Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling has about 218 franchise locations nationwide. As part of its Restoring America program, begun about five years ago, franchises have been involved in similar charitable projects across the country.

His business previously helped upgrade the home of Magdalen M. Bish and John J. Bish of Warren. Nine years ago their 16-year-old daughter, Molly, disappeared from Comins Pond in Warren. It is believed she was abducted and murdered, but the case remains unsolved.

These projects have been a learning experience, according to Mr. Stone.

“We can’t do everything,” he said, “but if we can help a little bit, that’s a good thing. It’s part of who we are.”

“When I was a lot younger, I didn’t understand charity and I didn’t understand why people gave. But as I’ve gotten older and been more involved with people and been asked to help out in things, I find it to be very rewarding.”

“This is not something I’m trying to do as an individual,” Mr. Stone said. “I’m trying to get as many people and as many of our vendors, tradesmen and employees involved as possible.”

Mr. Stone said the Quinlan family has a very old, antique home and this undertaking involves major work on the second floor, including complete reconstruction of three bedrooms.

“We’re going to gut them out to the studs, rewire them, insulate them, plaster the walls, put in new trim and partition off a closet,” he said.

Other work involves remodeling the kitchen, rebuilding a chimney, upgrading a laundry room and converting a three-season porch into an entryway.

The plan is to have everything done by June 8 or 9.

Mrs. Quinlan has moved out while the work is taking place and is staying with family members in the area.

There is a lot of work tied to projects like this, according to Mr. Stone, but there is an equal amount of enjoyment.

“It does feel good,” he said. “You get on the job sites where we’re doing something like this and the positive energy is just overwhelming.”
http://www.telegram.com/article/2009...430/1101/LOCAL
From left, Mary Ellen Wessell, business manager of Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling; Bob Stone, owner of the Paul Davis franchise in Worcester; and homeowner Mary Quinlan discuss the ceiling. The beams were cut from trees. They found Boston Herald and The Evening Gazette newspapers dated 1942, and a millinery sign tucked inside a wall. (T&G Staff Photos/CHRISTINE PETERSON)