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Twenty-two years ago, Chris McQuilkin used his influence as chief executive and president of National Discount Brokers Group to add the sound of a quacking duck as a voicemail option.
Seriously, if you called the company, you were prompted by a recorded operator that “If you would like to hear a duck quack, press seven.” Millions of callers dialed in, just to hear the quacking. And not a cent was spent to advertise the ducky little stunt.
Written about back then in The New York Times it was a prime example of the creative leadership style that fueled McQuilkin’s success at work and in life.
Christopher David McQuilkin, a 1976 graduate of Sayville High School, died of pancreatic cancer on Saturday, July 2. He was 63, and had lived in Ridgefield, Conn., since 2003.
One of eight children in his family, McQuilkin learned how to sail on the Great South Bay and won a national championship for racing Blue Jay dinghies. His heartfelt obituary published at Ever Loved noted that he also earned state titles in clarinet and that he graduated from Brown University in 1980 with a degree in engineering and math in 1980.
McQuilkin began his career as a lead programmer for Atari, playing a huge role in the creation of the top-selling arcade game Dig Dug, according to the obit. By the end of the 1980s, he had shifted his job journey to the financial sector, where he became head of oil trading operations for the United Bank of Switzerland.
Eventually, he joined Jersey City-based National Discount Brokers Group, putting them on the map with his good-natured humor and his industry expertise. With McQuilkin at the helm, the company went from the sixth to the first online brokerage firm in the world, according to obituary information.
At home, McQuilkin was an avid gardener and a devoted family man who worked tirelessly to entertain his loved ones, even organizing a treasure hunt that criss-crossed Manhattan, Ever Loved reported.
McQuilkin is survived by his partner Tina; three children, Callie, Quest and Keel; his mother Jean; and seven siblings, Doug, Trish, Gwen, Jen, Andrew, Ronnie and Nerissa.
Funeral services for McQuilkin are scheduled for Friday, July 8, at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 30 Church St. in Georgetown, Connecticut.
Top photo: Christopher David McQuilkin (Sayville Alumni Association/Facebook).