Ed Quick, the dapper former state senator who represented Clay County in the Missouri Senate for 20 years, died Saturday.
He was 81. He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung ailment.
A Democrat, Quick rose from Kansas City firefighter to the state Senate’s top position, president pro tem, becoming the first Kansas City lawmaker to hold the post in four decades. He capped his career with a four-year term as Clay County presiding commissioner that ended in 2010.
His crowning achievement may have been his work in Jefferson City overseeing passage of a health insurance program for poor, uninsured children. He also worked to lower sales taxes on groceries.
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Another accomplishment: He was on the initial board of directors to start Tri-County Mental Health in Clay, Platte and Ray counties.
“He was a wise and steady presence in Jefferson City,” recalled Roy Temple, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party who once served as Gov. Mel Carnahan’s chief of staff in the 1990s. “That was rare enough then. It’s even rarer now.”
Quick may have been quiet, but Temple said he had a steely resolve. “You were a fool if you didn’t know that just because he was quiet didn’t mean he didn’t have an opinion or wasn’t willing to stand up and fight for things he believed in.
“Part of what made him effective was he wasn't always talking. He had the ability to listen to what others thought...and facilitate the kinds of conversations that led to productive outcomes.”
Scott Charton, a former Statehouse correspondent for the Associated Press, described Quick as a “quiet, humble and courteous man” who was well-liked by Senate colleagues in both political parties.
“Ed was one of the old school. When he gave his word, that was good enough,” Charton said.
Born in Rich Hill, Mo., Quick went to school in Higginsville.
He served as a Kansas City firefighter from 1960-1970 before launching his political career by winning a seat on the Kansas City Council in 1975 representing a 1st District seat in the Northland. He was re-elected twice and served for 10 years.
In 1985, Quick won the first of five terms in the state Senate from the 17th District in Clay County. He served until 2005 during a time that saw the Senate transition from decades of Democratic control to a Republican takeover that continues today.
Quick was elected Senate president pro tem for 1999-2000 after serving two years as majority leader. During his two years as Senate president, a fellow senator from Kansas City, Ronnie DePasco, served as Senate majority leader, giving Kansas City a rare one-two punch in the General Assembly’s upper chamber.
In 2001-2002, he served as Senate minority leader.
“Ed wasn't a grandstander,” said Jim Mathewson, who served as Senate president pro tem longer than anyone in state history. “He might go two weeks and never get up on the floor. But when Ed spoke on an issue, whether he be for it it or against it, people listened.”