I knew Skipper only a short time. We were in electroics school oh, it must have been 1959. I don't recall what type of technician he became but I became a Airman Navigation and Communications technician. I recall we rode a bus together from Norman Oklahoma to Memphis Tennesse. Our names we called out for a stint of mess cooking but I held his hand to keep him in formation. Enough people stepped forward so we didn't have to go. Instead we started the six months of schooling.
I had no idea where Skipper went but I asked for a seaplane squadron which I was given as not many people wanted to work in that type of squadron. At the time I has this serious girlfriend that wanted to get married. I asked for a shore duty station and sea planes were always shore based. It was about the middle of June as I married June 25th 1959. We've been married now over 52 years.
I'm saddened to hear of his passing. It would have been nice to have gotten with him but I had no way of knowing his whereabouts.
Since I left UT in 1998, I have thought of Jim often - especially when I drink a lot of coffee! Jim was a great teacher to many students, both graduate and undergrad. Even though I am not still directly in academics or research, I still rely on many of the things Jim taught me when I was working with him in the "upstairs" lab.
To his family - thanks for sharing him with us. I am sorry for your loss - hopefully the great memories are already replacing the sadness.
I did not know Dr. Skipper, but I did know Laura some years ago when she worked in my lab. My condolences to Ms. Skipper and to the rest of the family.
I cherish the memories and times that we got to come to Austin and visit. You always took the extra step to make sure our visit was enjoyable. You will dearly be missed. To Aunt Patsy, Jeff, Laura and Lynn, my thoughts and prayers are with you all. Love Yal Dearly, Gina!! (Tifton, Ga)
My memories of Skip begin when he was 23 or 24. He was a happy but very serious young man with blond hair and glasses. He was tall and lanky and very nice to look at. He seemed like such a good matrimony candidate for my best friend that I did every thing I could do to encourage a romance. I had to be careful not to go too far with my comments as my good friend at a lofty two years older than I was didn't always appreciate my exuberance. My friend didn't seem to think too highly of him at first - too much of a bookworm for a practical, hardworking young lady who had by then been on her own and self supporting for 5 years! However, thankfully Skip won her over and I had the pleasure of being maid of honor at a summer wedding in South GA. I think the temperature was near 100 at this
beautiful little church wedding. This was one of the highlights of my life knowing my friend was in good hands and would have a good life.
Skip was a calming influence with his drool comments and occasional jokes. He was willing to go along with most anything we asked of him. He has well mannered and kind. He never talked about himself or anybody else for that manner. He just didn't talk a lot but when he did it was usually something witty. He had some good friends that he introduced to Melba and me. I often wonder what life became for these friends of his. He had an especially good friend who died after some kind of elective surgery as a medical student at Johns Hopkins. I remember Skip as the science student. I often wondered if teaching was hard for him since he wasn't much of a talker. But, he did well in his field.
Although we were separated for many years, I always had the feeling things were still the same. When we did get together it was like we had never been separated. It seemed we just took up where we left off. I remember Skip saying he had to chastise one of his daughters for talking in her husband in a manner he didn't approve of. This was said in such a serious manner I had the impression he had never "fussed at his girls" very much but when he did it was effective. You could tell how proud he was of each child and grandchild.
I am deeply saddened that Skip left us all at such a "young age" as I planned to retire eventually and do some traveling with him and Pat. I know Pat will be lonely but surrounded
by loving children and grandchildren, she will be comforted and protected.
With the loss of Skip, the world lost one of the finest people I have known in my life.
I was Chairman for a time of the now defunct Zoology Department in which Jim functioned. I did not have much contact with him but when I did it was always laconic which suited me fine! I did learn that he had become a golf enthusiast which, my being a Scotsman where it all began, meant that he was OK!
I worked with Jim at UT for about 4 years and of all the people I worked with he was my favorite. GREAT personality. A great loss, but a bit of Jim's personality will live on in all that knew him and learned from him.
Jim was a true friend and an inspiration; he will be greatly missed. May God's peace and loving arms hold close all those dear to him in this difficult time.
Your family are in our prayers. May God help you in your time of sorrow.
Jeff and the Skipper family, our love and support will always be here for you.
I am so sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful man. I'll always remember his great wit that made me laugh or smile countless times.
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
David Crews, Ashbel Smith Professor Zoology and Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
In 1991 I approached Jim about the possibility of his joining my laboratory and undertaking work in two very distinct research programs. Both involved molecular biology and at the time represented a new direction in my research effort. I was well aware of Jim’s outstanding research performance ever since I arrived at the University of Texas at Austin in 1982. At that time he was coordinating the research efforts of the laboratory of the late Professor Terrell Hamilton. Although I was familiar with the power of molecular techniques to answer specific questions in biology, I did not feel sufficiently expert in their execution to make significant headway, much less to guide the efforts of post-docs and graduate students that wanted to work at this level of analysis. Jim turned out to be just what I was looking for; someone capable of teaching as well as running quality control and trouble-shooting various molecular genetic methods.
Jim co-supervised the PhD theses of several graduate students (e.g., Larry Young and Judith Bergeron) and postdoctoral fellows (e.g., John Godwin and Thane Wibbels). These projects were not the typical sort that he had worked with before. Drawing on his training in cell biology and his genuine interest in all things biological, he was able to bridge the gap from physiology (my expertise) to molecular biology (his expertise). In so doing he made it possible for the lab to make great strides in these new areas. He established a state-of-the-art laboratory in molecular endocrinology that continues to use sophisticated molecular techniques.
Jim was exceptional in his ability to translate complex ideas and communicate these to individuals with little or no training in molecular and cell biology. He also was able to develop original approaches to problems that have long resisted previous research efforts and was critical in developing new research directions.
Since Jim retired and left the basement of Patterson I have often missed our conversations about science and life in general.
David F. Smith, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ
Although the late Dr. Terrell Hamilton was my Ph. D. advisor, I think it is fair to say that Jim was largely my scientific mentor, and I attribute much of my professional success to his patient guidance and example. Beneath his mild demeanor, Jim has an infectious enthusiasm for science that readily transmitted to me.
Jim had a rich history of contribution to the field of reproductive biology. His long-standing interest in the molecular basis for steroid hormone action resulted in pioneering studies on the early consequences of estrogen action, including one of the first demonstrations that estrogen stimulates transcription in target tissues and the novel identification of specific genes upregulated by estrogen in uterine tissues. In the CrewsLab he made the startling discovery that estrogen receptor in brain is commonly expressed from an alternatively spliced transcript that generates a functionally unique receptor. He also directed his efforts to revealing the then poorly understood molecular mechanisms that underlie temperature-dependent sexual differentiation in some vertebrates. Using modern molecular approaches, Jim helped in identifying the gene for the centrally important transcription factor, steroidogenic factor-1, as a prime regulator of the proximal genetic events determining an embryo’s ultimate sexual phenotype. This exciting finding stimulated additional studies in many laboratories around the world.
Through highly productive collaborations with Terrell Hamilton and David Crews, Jim proved his abilities as a scientist and valued colleague. His publication record would not be characterized as prolific, but Jim always favored impact over enumeration. As a testament to the importance of Jim’s contributions, note his enviable record of first author publications in Cell, Science, and PNAS as well as multiple other publications in first-quality journals.
Those of us who were fortunate to know Jim cherish his memory and try to emulate his qualities in our own lives and teachings.
Thane Wibbels, Professor, Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham
I worked with Jim on a daily basis in the early 1990's while I was an NIH NRSA Fellow working with David Crews and Jim Bull. After leaving the CrewsLab I continued to collaborate on several projects that have involved Jim. I was always extremely impressed by his approach to research. He was very meticulous in his molecular studies and up-to-date on the most recent techniques available for addressing basic questions. When I was at University of Texas, we would often go to Jim and discuss with him where we wanted to go with certain research projects, and then Jim would suggest the best ways to get there. Not only did he have a broad knowledge and expertise in molecular biology, he also epitomized the classic conservative and highly disciplined scientist. When Jim conducted the experiments, you knew the results are reliable.
Finally, I would like to say that Jim was tops when it comes to collegiality, and a marvelous teacher in the laboratory. Jim was instrumental in the training of a large number of graduate students and postdoctoral students at the University of Texas. I knew many of those students and they all have the utmost respect and admiration for Jim. He was very enjoyable person to work with in the laboratory. He was altruistic, always willing to help out in any way possible, and a great personality. Further, he has a tremendous professional attitude that acted as a model for others in the laboratory.
Laura, and the entire Skipper family, you are in our thoughts and prayers as you go through this difficult time. May the happy memories you share with him help to heal your hearts.
Your whole family is being lifted up in our prayers. I'm happy to have known your Dad. May God bless you.
"A Man Who Stood Tall Among Men,
Thank You for Being My Dad!"