Harris F. Skinner Jr., 97, of Pinehurst, N.C. passed away from natural causes on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at his assisted living residence (Fox Hollow) in Pinehurst. Harris is predeceased by two older brothers, Raymond Skinner of San Diego who died in August of 2017 and Harland Skinner in April 2000. Harris was also predeceased by his loving wife, Marjorie Perry Skinner, who died on Dec. 30, 1975, in his arms of a heart attack while dancing during a vacation in Miami, Fla.
During their high school days they lived in adjoining towns, Marjorie in Woodsville, N.H. and Harris in Pike, N.H. At this time they did not date. It was about a year after graduation in 1941 they first met on a blind date and soon fell in love. They dated for several months and married in September 1941 just prior to the horrific Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor. After Marjorie’s death , Harris remarried in 1979 to Druciel Minger, of Fairmont, W.Va., and they lived in Pinehurst in retirement. Druciel died of natural causes in 2008, and Harris continued to live in Pinehurst until his death.
Harris was born on March 4, 1922, on his parent’s wheat ranch in Burns, Wyo. near the capital of Cheyenne, as was his brother Raymond, born in 1920, and brother Harland, in 1912.
Their parents, Harris Sr. and Rose Brown Skinner, were living in the Lowell, Vt. area and married in early 1907. They were adventurous by nature and after nearly a year of marriage decided to move West to Lincoln, Neb. leaving their families by train. They were not long in Lincoln when they decided to take advantage of the Homestead Act that granted 160 acres of western land to anyone paying a filing fee. Harris Sr. decided to grow wheat on this acreage first building a 20 by 20 sod house that eventually grew to a larger wooden structure. Harris Jr. and his brothers understood and appreciated hard work from and early age. In 1938 the ranch was sold and the Skinners resettled in Pike, N.H., managing a small inn, the Wet Stone Inn, with the help of their sons. Unfortunately, the Inn burned down after a few years. The Skinners then purchased a 220-acre dairy farm in Orford, N.H., that functioned well with the help of their sons on and off until late 1958. Harris Sr. died in 1960 and Rose in 1978.
After the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Harris and Raymond joined the armed service in early 1942. Raymond became a naval officer and served with a reconnaissance unit in the South pacific. Harris joined the army and trained as a military police serving in Libya then in Alexandria, Egypt attached command HQ. After three years and more of that terrible war, sixteen million plus members of the “Greatest Generation” came home to their loved ones eager to begin a new life. Harris reunited with his lovely wife, Marjorie, and their new child, Sandra Jane, living in Woodsville, N.H. with Marjorie’s parents, George and Gladys Perry. Harris and Marjorie were welcomed to stay in her parent’s home until enough money was saved for a move.
Harris wanted to attend college, but at this point he needed to work to save money and did so primarily as a carpenter. In December 1946, another child was born, a son, Robert Perry. Soon after this time Harris was accepted to the University of New Hampshire with finances granted by the GI Bill. He moved the family to government sponsored housing in Portsmouth, N.H. that was close to the UNH. After three years of study and some part time work, he graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in business.
Marjorie was pregnant with their third child and in November 1952, Patricia Ann was born. At this time Harris worked in Portsmouth as a salesman for the successful Motorola company, a pioneer in the television industry. Two years later Motorola offered Harris a better paying sales job in Burlington, Vt. Harris took the job and moved the family to a rented house in Burlington. Soon after this, Harris and Marjorie bought a house in the nearby small town of Essex Junction.
It was in this house, 2 Abnaki Avenue, that Marjorie loved, and loved the community, and where the children were raised. In Vermont, Harris was full of energy and ambition and soon established himself as a top seller. In a short time he advanced to being Motorola’s branch manager, covering all of Vermont, into northern New Hampshire and northern New York. As a hard working, educated manager, Harris earned numerous accolades with Motorola, earning cash rewards and numerous trips to Europe and Caribbean island nations.
Harris found time to be active in civic matters in Essex Junction being a member of the Chamber of Commerce, member of the school board (Prudential committee) for 11 years, being its chairman for five years. He was also active with the town’s Lions Club and was a long time director of its annual horse show. Harris was also very much involved with the Congregational Church. Harris was very athletic, having played varsity basketball and baseball in high school. One of his main athletic interests as an adult was golf, and Pinehurst offered many courses. Another sport he loved was skiing, and while in Vermont, he was an avid member of the National Ski Patrol assigned to Madonna Mountain near Stowe.
Harris leaves his son, Robert Skinner and wife, Dianne, and their son Ryan, all of North Carolina, and their daughter, Jessa Moyer and her husband, Damion, and their children Aiden and Rose, now in Tennessee. He leaves his daughter, Patricia Garvey, her sons Sean Garvey (Ohio) and Casey Garvey (New York), her daughter Greta and her husband, Fallon Cohen, of Maine, and their father Mike Garvey (Vermont). And he leaves his first daughter, Sandra Haseldine, husband David Haseldine, and Sandra’s daughter Deborah McDonough, all in Vermont.
Harris’s wish was to be cremated with his ashes buried along side Marjorie Skinner in the Fairview cemetery in Essex Junction, Vt. A graveside and/or church ceremony will be held with family and friends. This will take place in late May once the cemetery opens. More details about this will be forthcoming in April.
In lieu of flowers to honor Harris, please make a donation to the charity, Paralyzed Veterans of America: go to https://pva.org/ways-to-give