John C. Skinner
On the evening of January 13, 2017, John Carl Skinner, 80, passed away peacefully as a result of injuries suffered from a fall the day after Christmas. John was surrounded by his family at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport at the time of his passing, after a happy day of sharing memories and music with loved ones.
John was born in San Jose, California on March 22, 1936. He was adopted at age 6 by Cleo and Lempi Amanda Koivunen Skinner, and later at age 12 by Gladys May Skinner, following the passing of Amanda.
John grew up in Sacramento, California and joined the Navy at age 18 where he served as a fighter pilot for 12 years. He met his future wife, Jeri Ann Hatch, at the Officers’ Club at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, California. They were married on July 5, 1959. They had two sons, Christian Carl born on February 9, 1960 and Craig Steven born exactly two years later, on February 9, 1962.
After serving in the Navy, John continued his flying career as a Captain for Pan American Airways in its peak years. During this time, John and his family relocated to the east coast and settled in Westport, Connecticut so that he could be based out of the New York hub and enjoy more time with his family when he wasn’t flying. While working for Pan Am, he flew to such places as Beirut, Johannesburg, London, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo. John finished his professional career with Delta Airlines, after their acquisition of Pan Am.
Flying was his first love, and he was blessed to be able to spend his life doing what he loved most. John also loved anything with an engine, especially cars. He enjoyed watching and attending car races with his son, Chris. His son’s friends used to line up their cars in the driveway so he could fix them. It was even joked that John could fix a car with nothing but glue and a yo-yo string. John was an all-around handyman, and he passed this talent on to his sons.
Following his retirement, John, along with Jeri and Craig, became a leader for Kingdom Builders and later for Builders Beyond Borders, where he put his handyman skills to use building and repairing homes, clinics, daycare centers, and more for the less fortunate. John and his family assembled groups of teens to participate in these efforts, traveling to such places as Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Honduras, and instilling the values of generosity, service, and goodwill through their ministry. Throughout the years, over 1,700 teenagers participated in these programs.
John was preceded in death by his adoptive father Cleo Skinner; his adoptive mother Amanda Skinner; his adoptive mother Gladys Skinner; his father-in-law Robert Hatch, his mother-in-law Bernice Hatch, and his dear friend who was like a daughter to him Marianne Challis-Root.
John leaves his wife of 57 years, Jeri (Hatch) Skinner; his son Christian Skinner and his wife Tammy; his son Craig Skinner and his wife Elizabeth; his granddaughter Jennifer Skinner; his granddaughter Amanda Dempsey, her husband Peter, and their son Killian; his granddaughter Emily Skinner; his step-grandson Howard Dias and his companion Jasmin; his sister Patricia Peck and her husband Robert; his nephew Brian Peck, his companion Staci, and his daughter Ruby; his niece Diane Rodda, her husband Matthew, their son Owen, and their daughter Ashlin; his sister-in-law Jannett Bailey; and his French bulldog Winston.
In addition to his biological family, John leaves behind dear friends who are like his extended family; his “son-in-law” Frank Root; his “grandson” Alanson Root, his wife Ashley, and their son, Atlas; his “granddaughter” Abigail Root and her companion Ben; his “grandson” Phillip Bettencourt; “Uncle” Bob Logan; “Uncle” Rick Donner; and many other close friends who held John in their hearts.
In recent years, John dealt with Parkinson’s Disease but always kept a positive attitude. The effects of the disease contributed to his fall. In keeping with John’s generous nature, he donated his body to Yale University for research in hopes of helping to find a cure for the disease.
John has requested that donations be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to further advance the search for a cure. (MichaelJFox.org)
A celebration of John’s life was held on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. at Southport Congregational Church, 524 Pequot Avenue, Southport, Connecticut.