John F. Skillman Jr.

2 entries
  • "I have such fond memories of Mr. Skillman while a student..."
    - Shoreen Shahawy
  • "A life well lived..."
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John F. Skillman, Jr.
"Jack", 80
FALMOUTH - John F. Skillman, Jr. "Jack", 80, Falmouth, died on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, at the Hospice of Southern Maine, Gosnell Memorial House in Scarborough, related to metastatic bladder cancer.
Jack was born on May 16, 1934 in Princeton, New Jersey, the only son of John "Johnny" F. Skillman, 3-time United States Professional Squash Champion and head Squash and Tennis coach at Yale University from 1934 - 1975 and Elsie A. (Wright) Skillman, "Mimi" as she was affectionately known by her grandchildren.
Jack lived in New Haven, Conn. throughout his childhood and attended the New Haven public schools through the ninth grade before he went to the Gunnery School in Washington, Conn. After he graduated in 1952, Jack was selected for an International Schoolboy scholarship and spent a year in England as an English-Speaking Union, exchange program student at the King's School, Worcester. While at the King's school Jack excelled at the game of Rugby
Upon his return Jack entered Yale University as a member of Silliman College and graduated in 1957 with a B.A. in English and, in 1958, with a M.A.T. in Teaching. Jack also coached freshman squash & tennis at Yale from 1956-1961.
In August of 1956, Jack married Sally L. Cott who he had met in 1950 at an Episcopal church summer conference for teens at Bucksteep Manor, Becket, Mass. Sally and Jack raised three children Gregory, Mark & Lee and were divorced in 1992.
In 1958, Jack started his teaching career and joined the faculty of North Haven High School, North Haven, Conn. where he taught English and was named chairman of the department in 1961. In 1962, he became an English instructor at the Hopkins Grammar School, New Haven, Conn. (now the Hopkins School, founded in 1660), a private, boys, college-prep day school (now coed). Additionally, in 1964 Jack also became the Director of Admissions at Hopkins.
Jack was selected and became Headmaster (now "Head of School") of the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY and served from 1968-1982. The Packer Collegiate Institute was a preemininent school for girls for much of the latter 19th century that included the establishment of a junior college in 1919 that operated until 1972, when, under the leadership of Jack, the school, "acknowledging the changing financial landscape of private education, … abolished the junior college and became fully coed."
Jack's tenure at Packer played a pivotal and significant role in bringing the school into the 20th century. His leadership accomplishments included an expanded ethnic and racial diversity in student enrollment, hiring new dynamic and talented faculty and expanding the school's dramatic arts programs.
In 1982, Jack became the seventh headmaster of the Harley School in Rochester, N.Y. where he served until 1988. He and wife Sally also purchased and managed Tobey's General Store for several years in Palermo, where Jack later semi-retired to a 130 acre, former farm parcel that included 17 acres of active wild blueberry fields.
Once in Maine full time, Jack went on work for five years as a Career Development Specialist at the Training Resource Center (TRC) in Portland, "a non-profit job training and economic development organization that found creative ways to teach essential work competencies and basic education skills to disadvantaged youth in a non-academic, supportive environment. Also during these years Jack worked in affiliation with the U.S. Department of Labor's Career Center, as an Outreach Vocational and Employment counselor assisting Maine's homeless Veteran population.
In the summer of 2006, after the best blueberry crop his Palermo farm had produced and having endured quadruple heart bypass surgery and surviving prostate cancer Jack downsized and moved to his Blueberry Lane, OceanView at Falmouth cottage.
Jack will be remembered for his gift of authenticity, his humor and his contagious, genuine, human and personable nature. He was a warm and good-hearted man who devoted his life to serving and teaching others. He always put people and his family first in his pursuit of promoting excellence in all things. He believed strongly in the value of quality secondary education and endorsed a school and self-improvement ethos that in his own words, "promoted individual and group honesty, perseverance, excellence, responsibility, challenge and human support and acceptance."
Jack was known for making people feel valued and supported with his gift of interpersonal conversation and his style of sincere engagement. He was always present, caring and interested when speaking with people. Jack's values were hope, courage, family, friendship, responsibility, knowledge, practicality, generosity, leadership, curiosity, realism, industry, achievement, duty, humility, integrity, purpose, independence and honesty.
Jack most enjoyed spending time with his family, being in the out-of-doors and being by the water. Mark Twain was his favorite American author and he liked playing and watching football, tennis & squash as well as viewing a good movie.
Jack is survived by his former spouse of 35 years, Sally (Cott) Skillman of Brunswick, and their three adult children Gregory Skillman and his spouse Karen Wentworth, of Gardiner, Mark Skillman of Hyde Park, Mass. and Lee Skillman and her fiancé Evan Jessen of San Diego, Calif. Jack also leaves behind two much-loved grandchildren Aiden Skillman (10) and Liam Skillman (5), sons of Greg & Karen.
Mr. Skillman will be cremated and his remains interned in the spring in New Haven, Conn., following a service (future date & time to be announced) at the Trinity Church on the Green, New Haven, Conn. A Celebration of Life, Memorial Service for Jack Skillman will be held this Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, 2 p.m. at the OceanView at Falmouth, 20 Blueberry Lane, Blueberry Commons Rm., Falmouth. (207) 781-4460.

If interested in making memorial donations, the following choices are encouraged:

The Packer Collegiate Institute
Brooklyn, New York,
The Skillman Associates
Squash Program
Yale University
New Haven, CT or
The Ocean View at Falmouth
Resident's Fund.

Thank you.

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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram from Dec. 19 to Dec. 20, 2014
bullet Yale University
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