“Don’t let what the world thinks of you influence you. Listen. But speak your mind.” – Vinnie Quayle
Vincent P. Quayle, founder of Baltimore affordable housing organization who fought redlining, dies
By Jacques Kelly as featured in the Baltimore Sun on April 2, 2023.
Vincent P. Quayle, founder of a Baltimore housing counseling agency who fought redlining and other discriminatory practices, died of cancer complications Monday at his Beverly Hills home in Northeast Baltimore. He was 83.
He spent nearly 40 years at the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center and was a vocal critic of 1960s predatory lending practices as Baltimore’s African Americans sought to purchase homes in white neighborhoods.
Born in Rockaway Beach, New York, he was the son of Clarence Quayle, a Remington typewriter salesman who bought a seat on the Wall Street Stock Exchange, and Kathleen McGoldrick, who worked in publishing.
“New York had a fire prevention essay contest every year. My two sisters won it, then I did. I was 10,” he told The Sun in 1996. “They came by with a big car, picked up my mother and me. We went to Mayor [Vincent R.] Impellitteri’s office and my picture was in the Daily News. It was all political. My uncle was the city fire commissioner.”
He was a Brooklyn Prep graduate and attended Villanova University in 1958 before entering the Jesuit Fathers seminary. He studied at St. Andrew’s Novitiate, the Loyola Seminary at Shrub Oak, New York and at the old Woodstock College in Baltimore County. He was ordained in 1970.
“He is the idealist who taught [as a seminarian] in Africa and learned community organizing under activist Saul Alinsky in Chicago,” The Sun wrote.
In Baltimore he became so upset by the abuse of white sellers and African American buyers that in 1968 he formed a group to picket the real estate firm busting blocks.
His picketing campaign at the old Goldseker real estate office on Franklin Street attracted wide media coverage.“
Of the 1960s real estate inequities in Baltimore, in a 1968 Sun article he said, “The whole city’s implicated and has not done a bloody thing about it.”
Years later, the Goldseker Foundation, a charitable foundation started with a bequest from real estate broker Morris Goldseker, awarded Mr. Quayle’s center more than $200,000.
In 1968 then Father Quayle began the work that became St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center in a York Road shopfront in the Pen Lucy neighborhood. He worked with civil rights activists Jack Martinez, Sampson Green and Walter P. Carter.
Ralph E. Moore Jr., a former St. Ambrose worker, said, “Vinny had the vision of homeownership for all and he used it to educate the working poor about buying a house. … [He] helped a whole lot of people in Baltimore.”
“I started St. Ambrose so that African-American families could buy houses the same way that white people buy houses. That was not true back in the ‘60s,” Mr. Quayle told The Sun in 2011. “Maryland’s b
anks and savings and loans were not serving — at least I thought and others thought — the black community well. And what happened, other systems grew up for black families to buy houses, and some of them were horrible. That was the era of blockbusting, where neighborhoods changed racially very quickly.”
He left the priesthood to marry in the 1970s and continued his work at the housing aid center that later moved to a 25th Street office where it remains.
Father George Bur, a Jesuit priest who worked with him in the 1970s, said, “We all got our real estate licenses. Vinny was entrepreneurial about trying to provide home ownership opportunities. We had to figure out ways to finance buyers.”
“Vinnie’s singularity was being wry and cheerful. Nothing could bother him. He could handle everything,” said a former classmate, James Kelly. “He wanted to be an activist, but an activist in the Ignatian way of discernment: Do no harm.”
Mr. Quayle wrote at least 45 letters to The Sun and The Evening Sun and a dozen opinion articles on many topics.
“I like to write,” Mr. Quayle said, “just like I used to like to preach.”
In 1996, he said, “What I really learned from the Jesuits, what matters in life is not wealth, fame, reputation, but to speak your mind. Don’t let what the world thinks of you influence you. Listen. But speak your mind.”
“Vinny’s preferred role was right out of the biblical tradition of the prophets, the confronting, unrelenting, irritating advocate for the high road, the right realignment of resources,” said Jospeh B. McNeely, founding director of the Central Baltimore Partnership. “For the political and financial establishment leaders whom he felt ignored or temporized about the needs of the poor, he was proud that they considered him a pain in the anatomy.”
Mr. Quayle donated his body for medical study.
A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on April 10 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 3515 Harford Road. Visiting begins at 10:30 a.m.
Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Patricia “Pat” Connolly, a retired paralegal; three sons, Thomas V. Quayle of Sacramento, Matthew F. Quayle of Baltimore and Paul C. Quayle of East Lansing, Michigan; a brother, Paul Quayle of Paducah, Kentucky; two sisters, Mary Quayle of New York City and Kathleen Quayle of Long Island, New York; and four grandchildren.