Dusty Quinn

9/14/1980 - 2/4/2008
In Memory Of

Here are some heartfelt items about Dusty.  If you have something you would like to share, check out the Forum page where you can post condolences and comments. Pictures, stories and comments can also be sent to one or more of the following family members:

Tom Quinn (Dusty's Dad)          Char Butler (Dusty's Mom)              Andrew Quinn (Brother)
7419 South Jackson Avenue    6420 Amundson Road                   
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74132            North Richland Hills, TX 76182      simplequinn@gmail.com
Cell # 918-605-9456                 Phone: 817-485-9815
email: 742sell@gmail.com       email: char99@swbell.net 

  • From Dusty's Mom, Char Butler:

    "To lose your child is to lose the most important thing one will ever hold.  The emptiness is indescribable.  I never knew one could feel this much pain.  I miss him so desperately and love him so profoundly.  I would give anything and everything I have ever had, or ever will have, for a single moment to again hold my baby boy close; to feel his breath on my neck and his silky blonde hair against my cheek.  If only I could have one more instant to stare into his brilliant, crystalline-blue eyes." 
  • From Dusty's Dad, Tom Quinn:

    "Dustin Thomas Quinn was an awesome human being; a magnificently free spirit that allowed his earthly mind and body to wonder and wander. Dusty was our youngest son, our baby brother, our best friend, our most passionate critic and our strongest ally. He was a voracious reader, a gifted writer, a rugged outdoorsman, and a spiritual healer who devoted his heart and soul to helping others. Hundreds of young people, and at least one old man, are alive today because of Dusty.


    "Dusty worked eight years in the Utah Desert where he rescued the minds and bodies of teenagers who had been ravaged by drugs, alcohol, and the stupidity of parents and culture. He saw the failures of our society and did his best to repair the damage.


    "Dusty cared nothing about money; never owned more than he could carry in his car or backpack, and often times shared his only coat and last dollar with a total stranger. He knew most were drunks, drug addicts or con-artists, but treated each and every one of them with dignity and respect.


    "Dusty’s love for everyone was unconditional. He was always there when we needed him and we were sometimes there when he needed us. Such was the case on February 4, 2008 when Dusty fell asleep and couldn’t wake himself up.


    "Dusty was only 27 when he completed his earthly journey but will live forever in the hearts and souls of everyone he left behind. May peace, happiness and our unbound less love accompany him on his vision quest through eternity.


    "I’ll catch up to you soon my son.    


    Love always,


  • From Dusty's Oldest Sister, Tammy Gupta:
        "I just keep remembering the good days with Dusty.  I know some of my best 
        conversations in my life took place with Dusty.  He was so intelligent and wise, way 
        beyond his years.  Many times I felt like I was speaking with an old man who had lived 
        a full life and had experienced much more than most people do in a lifetime.  It was 
        always a pleasure to sit and talk with him face-to-face or over the phone.  No matter 
        which it was, it was always a very long conversation, but never a boring moment.  I'm 
        sure going to miss those conversations we had.  I am also going to miss that smile of 
        his.  It could light up any room.  When he smiled, it instantly put me in a place of 
        peace and happiness.  It was one of the best smiles I've ever seen.  Also, he had the 
        eyes to match the smile.  Anybody who has every looked into my brother's eyes 
        knows what I am talking about.  They were the most beautiful eyes you could ever 
        imagine, and they had a way of seeing straight through to the window of your soul and 
        making you feel totally loved and accepted.  He was always present in the moment 
        and in the conversation with you.  He made you feel special and like you were the only 
        person on earth, at that moment in time.  He never seemed to get bored being in the 
        moment with you. 
        "The most important part of Dusty that I can never forget was his true unconditional 
        love for people, for those he knew and didn't know.  He felt every person in this world 
        was important and worth spending time with.  He had time for everybody, regardless 
        of who they were, and he loved and accepted them, no matter what.  We could learn a 
        lot from him, in that aspect.  His love and acceptance was truly unconditional.  He 
        really did not judge people.  He knew their weaknesses, yes, especially when it came 
        to family.  We had many conversations about that, but he loved them anyway, and he 
        just made a decision to think on the good and positive things about each one of 
        them.  I loved the fact that he felt every person had something to offer him and to the 
        world, and he tried to learn something from each person he came in contact with. 
        "He was a unique soul.  That was for sure.  I've never met another like him, and I am 
        sure I never will.  I treasure each and every moment I had with Dusty, and every 
        moment was truly a pleasure.  I don't remember ever having one single bad moment 
        with Dusty, not ever.  We never even had an argument or a disagreement, even when 
        growing up, that I can remember.  He was just about peace and love, and that's what I 
        admired and respected the most about him.  I wish I would have had more time with 
        him because I think he could have taught me some more lessons in this life.  He was 
        younger than me, but in many ways wiser.  Although he lived a different life than most 
        of us, we could all learn from his life.  It’s a sad, sad time for us all, and I don’t think we 
        can ever be the same after this great loss, but just as Dusty did, we need to learn 
        from him, personally, and each of life's experiences and take that with us through all 
        of the remaining journeys of our lives. 
        "Dusty, I love you with all my heart and I thank you for every precious moment you 
        chose to spend with me and for being present in those moments with me.  Thank you 
        for making me feel totally loved and accepted by you, even when I felt rejected by 
        many others in my life.  Thank you for being my brother, but most of all, thank you for 
        being a beautiful soul.  I will always love you and I will take every piece of goodness 
        and kindness you showed me, during your life, and try to pass it onto the world."

  • From Pearl Low:

    "I found out on Feb. 9th that Dusty had passed away. February 4th was also the birthday of a close friend. I cried while I read the email forwarded to me. My mind and body were shocked and
    confused.  I wondered how it happened, I analyzed and
    wondered...how, why, positive, negative, meant to
    be, maybe not, maybe this, maybe that, don’t
    know, sorry, for who for what, how society deals with
    death, how we are expected to deal with
    death....My sister listened and had kind and
    understanding words, as she had a dear friend die a couple of
    years ago.  After a couple days of strange
    wondering, I have come to accept what has happened and
    understand that death is unarguably part of
    Dusty’s and everyone else’s life. I picture his
    spirit soaring, smiling, free. I send my love to
    his family and friends. To everyone that loves
    Dusty. I send my love and condolence, may it be some
    "I am experiencing a sensation in my chest when I
    think of Dusty. I think it is my heart
    softening. This is truely what it feels like. My heart
    which has loved so deeply, been broken at times but
    stays open, continues to love, though has felt
    hardend....it is softening. It is a wonderful sweet
    feeling.  I am so greatful for the time and
    energy that I was fortunate to share with Dusty. His
    mind, emotions, so real and honest. When I read
    the letters on the website, I can tell that Dusty
    was real with everyone. The words used to descibe
    him and people’s experience of him ring true
    to me. They made sense and it made me feel happy
    to know that he touched many people on such a deep

    "I spent a week with Dusty in November, before he
    left to go to school. He was involved in
    creating a beautiful retreat space in Torrey and
    enjoying being part of the community.  He looked
    healthy, though he seemed very unsure of himself. I know
    he was in a sensitive and changing time in his
    life. We talked about many things. We had
    brillent, stimulating conversation while we were driving
    or hiking, sipping coffee, building things. We
    argued and discussed life, beliefs, religion. I
    enjoyed getting into it with Dusty. I felt I could
    talk to him about anything. I often reveled in how
    much of my own personal life I told him about.
    Somehow I would end up blabbing about so much. He
    always listened. He was honest, told me what he
    thought.  He was a great mirror for me. He told me
    in one of our last conversations that I was
    cocky. I told him he was cocky too. He said he knew
    it. After that I always catch myself when I use
    ‘that’ tone of voice. I gained a lot from my
    few years of knowing Dusty.  He told me on our last
    hike on Boulder Mt. That I was good for him. He
    said that I challanged and argued with him and he
    liked that. So I hope we gained from eachother. 

    "Dusty was beautiful, challanging, stimulating,
    proactive, interesting, creative, encouraging. He
    was many things and dear to many people. His
    spirit will live on in my heart. I will carry
    gratitude for his time on earth as my friend named

    "I love you Dusty. Whatever has happened I
    accept it. I am so greatful to have known you. Thank
    you for loving me. I hope you are at peace.

    Your friend Pearl"
  • From Eileen Cummo:

        "I am really so sad to hear about Dusty’s death, please give my deep condolences to 
        your family!  Dusty and my son met at Aspen at 17 and became friends.  Dusty 
        returned home before our son did and called me occasionally to remind me to not 
        give up on him, not lose heart in our son’s fight against the world of drugs.  Dusty 
        continued to call me over the following years and shared his faith, strength and 
        optimism at times when I really needed it the most.  We enjoyed a meal with he and 
        our son when he returned from Aspen.  He was truly a kind and true young man!  
        My prayers are with his family and certainly for Dusty."

  • From Connie Bogard:

        "I was devastated when I read the Star-Telegram this morning and learned of Dusty's 
        passing.  My heartfelt condolences go to his family and loved ones.  Dusty remains in 
        your heart even though it has been almost 10 years since we last saw him.  My late 
        husband Pete and I had the pleasure of going skiing with Blake and Dusty when they 
        were still just boys of 15 or 16, and we all spent many days at Eagle Mountain Lake.
        "There are a few things that really stick out from the ski trip and Dusty was the star 
        player in both.  Everyone was up, ready and dressed in ski gear but Blake who was 
        taking a marathon shower, I said "How long does it really take to shower?" to which 
        Dusty answered "You don't really think he's just taking a shower do you?"  It took 
        about 20 seconds for that to soak in and I left it alone.  Then coming down from the 
        mountain after a long day of skiing everyone's lips were dry and cracked and Dusty 
        pulls out the tube of Carmex rubs it on his lips.  I asked to use it and he said OK but 
        use your finger.  Pete and I still used that term if we were sharing Carmex, Use your 
        finger, ok?
       " I am heartbroken but I am sure that Pete and Dusty are laughing their asses off 
        rembering all the funny silly things that made our lives what they are today."

  • From William Stratton:

    "I met Dusty in Utah while I was on a cross-country trip just after the death of my father. I stayed with Rich Adams, in the house Dusty was living in at the time. We became fast friends within a few days. Over the past 3 years Dusty and I have kept in touch with emails and phone calls, talking often about women, writing (I am also a writer of sorts), friends, family...living. I am lost here, in Ithaca NY, where no one knows what a loss I have suffered. Dusty came here to live with me for a few short weeks a year or so ago, after he left Boston. Those few weeks helped us both tremendously, I believe. I saw something in him that understood a very secret part of me, and I believe that he saw something in me that understood something in him that very few do. I don't really want to be overly specific- I don't think that matters as much. I do want to say that I will miss him, often, and deeply. I am familiar with loss, practiced, accustomed. But death never really gets any easier, we just learn to live with it. I send my deepest sympathies to his family who I have never met, his friends who I mostly do not know, and everyone he loved. I wrote this poem for him yesterday, the day after I found out he had died. Please share it with whoever might benefit from reading it."


                        Someone like me

                        has little chance of understanding

                        the way that you moved

                        around, town after town.

                        Cities and states

                        fell away before and behind you.

                        You live in the pavement-

                        I can hear your voice now

                        when my tires roll over it.

                        Still, in some brief moments

                        when I am lost in the noise

                        of the spaces between

                        here and there

                        I know that you are singing to me

                        in a tone that certain ears are keen to hear-

                        those that are wild, and free

                        and eager to hear all sounds

                        before they drop to the ground.

                        Listen to me now,

                        friend who I will never see again

                        sing the songs of your living.

                        I am out of tune for them,

                        having not seen enough of the world

                        or loved so many things

                        in so many different places and ways.

                        Still, I am raising my voice

                        in the hopes that

                        while few attend the spreading of your ashes

                        many will understand something in my song

                        that understands something about you,

                        something so unkempt and open

                        that even those of us

                        who keep hidden that free thing inside

                        will buckle

                        and scream to be

                        out, roaming the earth.

                        Alive in a way

                        that only your early death

                        could have given us.

  • From Jason York:

    "I  received a message from my brother today that Dusty had passed.  It just floored me!  Although we had not spoken for a couple of years, I was Dusty's "senior staff" when he was a student in the field at Aspen and then hired him later to come back to Aspen as a staff.  I would love to know what happened, a way to contact his family and any one else. I will pull out some old albums of pictures about the time he was in the field.  His group was unforgetable, truly the most "real", hard headed, life-changing group of boys i had the pleasure of working with during my 3 and a half years in the field.  I can remember each one, where they are from, the challenges they endured and the accomplishments and growth they achieved.

    "I  remember Dusty arrived the day before or on Thanksgiving... i believe 1997.  He and another student came in together, John..or as he became known, little John, the Big Pink.  See Dusty and John were unfortunate to be issued "pink" bandannas from the supply room, it was a shot to there manhood, but they embraced the "pink" with a little coaxing and became the "Pink Bandanna Crew".  A far cry from the Tupac wanna be gangstas that the group seemed to be, back in the real world.  We actually called out more pink bandannas on Dusty's urging, so the others could take part.  Although, i had worked in the field a couple of years at this point, it was my first Thanksgiving away from home, Dusty struggled being new and we spent hours talking that day.  We allowed him to help us cook as we prepared an 8 course dinner.  Quite possibly the best turkey feast, i have ever had, sand and coals included.  Dusty was defiant, and full of piss and vinegar, but we immediately bonded, him being from OK and TX and me being a Texan, lost in a life changing Utah landscape.  We kept in contact occasionally through the years, until he returned as a staff member, i will never forget the day he called and wanted to come and work.  Dusty had a way of filling up a room, a smile and eyes that pierced your soul and lord knows he would never pass on an argument!  A deep yearning for understanding life's mysteries and a nomadic soul."

  • From Larry Bray:

          "Dusty, thank you for lessons you passed on to me in such a short time.  You will live 
        forever for me at Tireland on the Awapa and also at Jorgy Flat on the East end of 
        Boulder .  I’ll come visit."

  • From Thatcher Vagts:

        "Man was his smile brilliant."


  • From Zach Hessler:

            "I had the good pleasure of working with Dusty at Aspen. A master of metaphors 
          armed with surgical precision for cutting through the crap and getting down to the 
          business of being real. And that's what Dusty was mostly about. the pursuit of Truth 
          and being real. I say "mostly" because Dusty was full of crap sometimes. More of a 
          temporary imbalance where his lyricism would get a bit top-heavy. Sometimes he'd 
          catch himself, chuckle at his own self-importance, and reel it back in. Sometimes 
          you had to help him with that and he'd love you for it.

        "I consider him a brother on the journey of life and I will miss him. I feel fortunate to
         have gotten to spend some quality time with Dusty last summer. I worked with him on 
         his last shift, he mentored me on the aerodynamics of disc golf, we soaked up the 
         desert, I got to hear some of his written ramblings, and we ate ice cream. He always 
         valued my 2 cents worth perhaps because like him, I was a seeker too. Where his 
         journey takes him now, I am curious. I am a bit sad, but it is much less painful to lose 
         someone who was truly living his life than someone who never had the courage to try. 
         My life has been enriched by Dusty and I am grateful for that. To those of us he 
         leaves behind, well... you know what he'd say.

        "(He would love that folks are going bowling after his memorial)"

  • From Dan Lester:
        "I was fortunate to work with Dusty at the Aspen Achievement Academy for a couple 
        of years.  He was an amazing person who touched the lives of everyone he worked 

  • From Jennifer Batty:

    "I also loved being around Dusty.  He always said Hello whenever he was passing through.  And when we were fortunate, he would stay with us for a while.  I truly enjoyed his smile and the way his eyes lit up when he was smiling and talking to you.  I will personally miss his presence.

          "All of us as Aspen Achievement Academy are thinking of Dusty and his family.

          "God Bless You All!"

  • From Beth Newingham:

    "This is very sad news. I send my deepest condolences to all."


  • From John Geiger:

    "I often think back to when the West side of our yard was eaten up by an
    old RV donned in blue tarp and smelling strongly of cologne. And I
    remember that smile busting through the back door in the mornings, ready
    for some deep, engaging conversation. I fear I often failed to provide
    the depth and challlenge he was seeking - especially at 8 in the AM,
    though Faye would give him a good run. She loved to talk with him - and
    cared very deeply for him, as did I.  I intend to grab hold of some Cormack McCarthy and to engage Faye in some deep, challenging conversation about our dear friend."


  • From Jen Evers:

        "I was so sorry to hear about Dusty."

  • From Mike Gostlin:

        "My wife worked with Dusty at Aspen Achievement Academy. While I never 
        had the pleasure of meeting him for more than a brief moment, we were both 
        very saddened to hear the news."


  • From Heather Hobbs:

        "I met him 6 years ago mountain biking in Moab and we immediatly became very 
        close friends and shared an inexplicable bond... We always kept in close contact via 
        email and the occasional all night phone conversation where we philosophized about 
        life, love, truth, religion and the future of society. You know Dusty. I consider him a very 
        close friend in a way I can not describe, we just connect and I think of him often.  
        Anyway, I will truly truly miss Dusty and am sad that I never made it to visit him again 
        in Moab. My thoughts are with you and all his many friends and family."

  • From Patrick Nowak:

        "God bless Dusty."





  • From John Dupuy:


    "A friend of mine died yesterday, Dusty Quinn. I had known Dusty for nine years, maybe more... He was my friend. Dusty was 28 years old. He was a passionate soul and a very good writer. He was too much. Dusty was too arrogant, he was too passionate and too fucking rebellious by half. Dusty was too vulnerable. He loved great books, especially the Russians. He loved Tolstoy. He loved Cormack McCarthy….. He loved and respected me, and I loved him. We talked a lot and argued a lot and fought sometimes, as passionate men who love each other do. Whenever Dusty would blow back into town (Teasdale, Utah) for a few months I knew my life was going to get more complicated and intense; Dusty’s back. Dusty loved passionately, but he didn’t seem very good at it, did I mention he was too much? I was Dusty’s boss (Dusty was a wilderness guide) for awhile. I couldn’t get him to obey the rules. “Dusty, you can’t bring snuff into the field!” He never stopped. After awhile I didn’t care. He won that one. He was my friend.

    "He admired me that I stuck with things and wrote. I admired him because he wrote. He would write all night and half the day like he had blood on his finger pumping from his heart to his hard drive. He would come over several times a week and use our wifi connection. I asked him, “Dusty, why don’t you get your own Internet connection?” He would just smile. I think he enjoyed bugging me. I think he liked making outlandish statements and watching me deconstruct them. Did I mention that I am passionate too? He wanted to talk about books he was reading. He wanted to read me stories he was writing. He loved talking about ideas. He liked to listen to me rant. I told him, “Dusty you don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time! Some of us have done some thinking about these things before you. Ya know?” Dusty didn’t trust people too much and kept on working on the wheel. I think he trusted Tolstoy and me. The love of his life, Sonia, told me last night that Dusty loved the fact that I got mad at him, engaged him, told he was a blockhead and argued with him. Dusty would have been great on the Berkeley Campus in the sixties. He would have pissed off everyone. I told him that. I think he liked it. He was not a poser. He was the real deal. He was Dusty. And our chicken shit systems and rules aren’t too kind to people like that.   

    "PS Before Dusty left Teasdale the last time, he came and saw me. I had been mad at him for something or other. He wanted to make sure we were good before we parted. We talked before he left for about an hour and a half… and we were good. I gave him a couple of books for the road and told him how much I appreciated him caring about our friendship and that I loved. He told me the same.

    "If I’m granted to pass in a way that I have time to think about it, I know I’ll think of Dusty and smile. If I hit that tunnel and see Dusty at the other end… I’ll tell him, “I told you so.” And we’ll laugh together again."


  • From Wyatt Williams:

        "I don't know if Dusty was a fan of Metallica or not, but when I hear this song it 
        reminds me so much of Dusty."

            Metallica - Wherever I May Roam
            (Scroll down to play song)

            And the road becomes my bride
            I have stripped of all but pride
            So in her I do confide
            And she keeps me satisfied
            Gives me all I need
            And with dust in throat I crave
            Only knowledge will I save
            To the game you stay a slave

            Roamer, wanderer
            Nomad, vagabond
            Call me what you will

            But I'll take my time anywhere
            Free to speak my mind anywhere
            And I'll redefine anywhere

            Anywhere I roam
            Where I lay my head is home

            (And the earth becomes my throne)

            And the earth becomes my throne
            I adapt to the unknown
            Under wandering stars I've grown
            By myself but not alone
            I ask no one

            And my ties are severed clean
            Less I have the more I gain
            Off the beaten path I reign

            Roamer, wanderer
            Nomad, vagabond
            Call me what you will

            But I'll take my time anywhere
            I'm free to speak my mind anywhere
            and I'll never mind anywhere

            Anywhere I roam
            Where I lay my head is home
            YE' YEAH

            But I'll take my time anywhere
            I'm free to speak my mind
            And I'll take my find anywhere

            Anywhere I may roam
            Where I lay my head is home
            I say!

            But I'll take my time anywhere
            I'm free to speak my mind anywhere
            And I'll redefine anywhere

            Anywhere I may roam
            Where I lay my head is home

            Carved upon my stone
            My body lies, but still I roam,
            Yeah yeah!


An Email sent to Dusty's brother, Andy, on March 12, 2010:
Hey Andrew,

Not sure if we ever met, but I knew your bro. He was a good dude. We were friends in 2003-2004 in Sandpoint, we met through a mutual friend named DeAnna. Dusty was a real trip. Such a restless searcher, but completely present. He was a rare soul. When he would talk with someone, you could tell he was really listening, and that he actually cared. That's just not common. I tried to get Dusty to stay in Sandpoint but he had to keep moving. I still have his number in my phone, everytime I see it I think: "I should give that guy a call." I searched for him on Facebook, and found the link to this website. I just want to say that your brother was one of the truest people I ever met. I miss him.


Mark Bernheisel

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