William R. “Bill” Quimby, Tucson Citizen outdoor columnist for 27 years and publications director of Safari Club International for 16, died on June 20. His parents, Raimon and Ellen, preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jean, daughter Stephanie Quimby-Greene and two grandchildren.
Quimby was born in Tucson, Ariz., on Sept. 30, 1936, and obtained a marketing degree from the University of Arizona. He later founded Arizona Outdoor News, but closed it after starting work for the Tucson Citizen in 1963. There he earned Arizona’s Conservation Communicator of the Year award in 1973, making him the youngest person at the time to win the honor. His noteworthy work at the state’s oldest newspaper included a series of articles on the loss of public land, overgrazing and rings of criminals stealing and selling native American artifacts, pothunters so serious about protecting their lucrative heists that they threatened him at gunpoint during his research. In 2007 he was inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame.
He was an accomplished marksman, winning a variety of long-range shooting competitions, but his real passion was hunting. Quimby is among the few to take all 10 of Arizona’s big-game species, with the last—a once-in-a-lifetime desert bighorn sheep—coming after he’d broken his arm during the hunt, had the cast set to allow him to make the shot and did so with one hand.
As Safari Club International’s publications director from 1983 to 1999, he edited and published bi-monthly Safari magazine, monthly Safari Times, multiple volumes of “SCI Record Book of Trophy Animals,” “SCI World Bowhunting Record Book” and many others. He received the Peter Hathaway Capstick Literary Award in 2003. From 1989 to 2012, he moderated the organization’s longest-running convention seminar, “Your First African Safari.”
Quimby’s adventurous life provided an unusual background readers enjoyed and an expertise upon which authors relied. Somehow between taking 60 big game animals on six continents, he managed to edit, author and co-author a number of books during his career, including "Sixty Years a Hunter," "Divine Assistance, The Best and The Last of The Golden Age of International Big Game Hunting,” "The Heck With It I’m Going Hunting,” a series on the exploits of famed hunter C.J. McElroy and others. In 2007 he wrote, “Memories from Greer, Tales Told of a Unique Arizona Village,” providing an inside glimpse into the small city where he maintained a cabin hideaway in Arizona’s mountains.
He had a contagious enthusiasm for the outdoors, particularly hunting and its role in conserving renewable wildlife resources. In particular, Quimby seemed to savor the uncertainty of every outdoor trip, an affliction perhaps caught during one of his early big-game hunts in Canada. After a float plane ride to a remote camp to pursue caribou there, his native guide showed up hours late, inebriated, declared his intention to canoe off in search of firewood and disappeared—for days. Quimby made multiple attempts to find the missing local, took a caribou during one of those trips to eat and somehow alerted Mounties. After locating his body miles away and determining the man had drowned in a drunken stupor, authorities threatened to issue Quimby a citation for hunting without a guide. The lack of food in camp, a plane that didn’t plan on coming back for a week and little firewood to heat the wall tent forced them to reconsider, though.
Behind the scenes, Quimby was also a skilled mentor, eagerly teaching the editing, writing and publishing crafts to members of his staff. The first day I worked for him as editor in chief of Safari Times he showed me the obituary he prepared for himself and told me to sit down and write mine. He explained it’s something all good journalists do. I still have mine, but unfortunately am unable to locate his. I’m certain this version doesn’t do the same justice to Bill Quimby’s accomplishments as his would have, but hope it comes close.
So long friend. Thank you for everything you did. Your writing convinced thousands to experience the outdoors first hand—one reader at a time—and ultimately come to understand the critical role hunting plays in conservation. That knowledge will serve the resource well and, with luck, ensure it thrives for generations to come.