News & Opinion

Thank you, Shawn!

February 28, 2020


Porchlight Accounting Director Shawn Quinn is retiring today, February 28th, after 30 years with the company.

Porchlight Accounting Director Shawn Quinn is retiring today, February 28th, after 30 years with the company. When Shawn walked into the Harry W. Schwartz flagship store on Water and Wisconsin in downtown Milwaukee, he knew he found a special place. (To this day, Shawn still calls it the best bookstore he’s ever been in.) He was hired in September of 1989 to work at the small “Business Desk” run by Jack Covert at the back of the store—which, over the years, grew into our company. Over the next three decades, Shawn worked in human resources, store management, and accounting for both Schwartz and Porchlight (then 800-CEO-READ), earning a degree in accounting along the way. 

Most importantly, during this time Shawn met and married his co-worker Nancy (Williamsen) Quinn, who served as the Schwartz Marketing Director for nearly 20 years. They have a daughter, Alina, who is starting college at UW-Madison in the fall. In retirement, Shawn plans on volunteering in Milwaukee and spending more time with his family.

Of course we expect to see Shawn and his family at our annual summer picnics, holiday potlucks, and many times in between, but our daily lives here will be very different without his presence. We wish Shawn all the best and thank him from the bottom of our hearts for the days, months, and years we have spent with him. We will miss you, Shawn!


From a cash register in the Schwartz business division’s cozy space on Wisconsin Avenue to the accountant for this amazing company is quite a journey. When I myself retired, the note Shawn wrote to me was so touching and thoughtful that it continues to hold a special place on my desk at home. In return, I wish him the best of luck and thank him for all of the years he dedicated to the company. —Jack Covert, Founder

Shawn was always the one reminding me that there was a tsunami or some major world crisis that was calling for aid—and I think we were all pleased, as a company, to respond. I’m grateful to Shawn for reminding us to be generous in ways easy to overlook.  —Carol Grossmeyer, Owner and Chair

Shawn and I started on the floor of the same Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop (the Iron Block building) and we also got marching orders to go manage a store for a year (Shawn at Shorewood, and myself to Mequon). We both like Nancy a lot, though of course differently. We both get very enthusiastic about books and reading. But perhaps our true bond is having experienced many very long manager meetings. I think they sometimes went for six hours. That’s a lot of time going over numbers. Congrats on retirement and here’s to a great next adventure! —Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Books

I’m so proud of Shawn for his thirty-plus year career, and I’m looking forward to the next phase of our life together. Thank you to the company for bringing us together, and for each of our careers. —Nancy Quinn, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center Director of Marketing & Communications, former Schwartz Marketing Director, and Shawn’s wife

Shawn was the person who greeted me at the door on my first day here, and he’s the first person I see every morning when I walk in the office. He always makes me feel welcome and appreciated—which is no small thing in work or life. I will miss his calm presence, his smiling face, and our shared love of Patti Smith! —Blyth Meier, Marketing Director

From croquet battles at the company's backyard summer parties to the hand-off of my Johnny Cash "bird" poster to him when I once left the company, Shawn and I have created real, lasting memories. But it's not the obvious social memories that I'll miss when Shawn is no longer around every day. Knowing Shawn is to share a lot of small, personal, momentary spiritual connections that are not boisterous proclamations, but quiet permutations. On days when I am my most impenetrable, Shawn, pulling from his well of empathy can find a way, whether he realizes it or not, to simply and quietly let me know that somebody cares. And he can because he does care. I'll miss having you around, my friend.  —Ryan Schleicher, Operations Director

Shawn started my life here after I moved to Milwaukee to start a new chapter in my life after growing up in a small town. He hired me as a bookseller, then moved on in his own path within Harry W. Schwartz Bookstores. Shawn has worn many hats and has done so much for not only himself and his co-workers, but for his family as well. I got to see Shawn through the years not only as a great father and co-worker, but as someone one that I'd like to be like. He will be greatly missed, but he probably knows that he still needs to come to the company picnic to beat the Schleicher brothers at croquet.  —Roy Normington, Senior Customer Service Specialist 

I started working for the company when Shawn worked in the administrative offices of the bookshops and my job was in the back warehouse then named Schwartz Business Books. As a new customer service person, I didn’t have much interaction with someone in accounting on “the other side” until Shawn brought his new puppy, Mack, to work one morning and asked if Mack could stay in our back supply room during the day because he was too young to stay home alone. Of course we said yes, and of course we spent our every available moment in back visiting Mack and getting a little puppy time. As a dog lover who had two dogs myself, I was pretty thrilled to learn I worked at a company that put their people—and their people’s dogs—first. And as my first real introduction to Shawn, a guy I would come to know, and in many instances, lean on to help me “get the numbers” to support some of my crazy ideas, I instantly knew I could rely on someone who was as much of a dog person as I was.  —Sally Haldorson, Managing Director

Shawn’s been a mainstay in my family’s book business for three decades. Over his many years, he has not only performed myriad duties—sung and unsung—but has also become a kind of historian for us. Want to know the weather 16 years ago on a Tuesday? Shawn has that recorded. Want to know the person who worked the special order desk at one of our bookshops in 1991? He’s got that in a binder—and likely at the tip of his tongue. Want to know how to be a reliable, consistent, thorough accounting manager? Shawn could show you how it’s done. As he goes off to open the first page of his next chapter, we wish him lots of great books to read, winning Brewers baseball to watch, and many visits (but not too many!) to his first year college student daughter in Madison come the fall.   —Rebecca Schwartz, Owner, President & CEO

Top row: Mary Hopper, Daniel Goldin, Nancy Williamsen (later Nancy Quinn), John Eklund, Shawn Quinn
Bottom row: Darwin Mittlestadt, Diane Sutphen, Carl Bogner

Photo circa 1991 at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop downtown Milwaukee
T-shirts designed by Rebecca Schwartz

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