FRIEND LEROY SKINNER
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FEB. 17, 1925 - DEC. 15, 2012
BLACK MOUNTAIN - Friend Leroy Skinner, 87, passed away peacefully on Saturday morning, December 15, 2012, at Highland Farms Retirement Community in Black Mountain, NC. He was born on February 17, 1925 in Highland Park (Detroit), Michigan, the only child of Leo Arthur and Mary Louise (Huntly) Skinner.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his oldest son, Thomas Friend Skinner, in July 2008. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Pauline (Polly) Hagan Skinner, also of Highland Farms; two daughters, Susan (Daffi) Nathanson of New York City and Judy Curtis of Black Mountain; a daughter-in-law, Laura Roel Skinner of Kannapolis; and two sons, Jim (Terri) Skinner of Winston Salem and John Skinner of Minneapolis. He also leaves behind four beloved grandchildren, Kate Skinner (Amy) of Sydney, Australia, Erin Curtis of Raleigh, NC, Claire Curtis of Pittsburgh, PA, and Sean Harrison Renegar of Winston Salem, NC.
Friend's sparkling intelligence, sense of humor, love of conversation, and boundless curiosity will be missed by everyone. He graduated from Cass Tech High School in Detroit in the late 1940s and then from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1950. He worked in Eniwetok in the South Pacific during the early 1950s, developing and testing nuclear devices and traveled extensively during his long engineering career. A lifelong Electrical Engineer, he worked for the Sandia Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Livermore, California in the 1950s and 1960s and then relocated to the East Coast in the late 1960s and worked for the MITRE Corporation in Bedford, Massachusetts and McLean, Virginia.
After his retirement from MITRE in the early 1980s, he worked as a communications/network systems consultant at the Pentagon and White House, helping develop some of the first computer communication networks in the United States (in effect, pioneering further development of the Internet). He was a Life Member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). After his retirement, he was an active member of SCORE (Society of Retired Executives) and the Asheville area PC users group (whose members will truly miss his knowledge of computers and sense of humor).
Friend was an avid gardener and arborist - he definitely had a green thumb and he thoroughly enjoyed spending hours creating and maintaining beautifully landcaped yards at every one of the homes where he and Polly lived. Their home on High View Drive in Black Mountain was surrounded by a magnificent display of nature and gardens full of hundreds of varieties of day lilies, azaleas, dogwood trees, and many other plants.
Concurrent with his and Polly's move to the West in the early 1950s, Friend extended his enjoyment of traveling, travel trailering, slide photography, and camping, taking his growing family on numerous vacations and trips to many areas around the United States, visiting almost every state in the USA and many of our National Parks.
He attended the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Swannanoa Valley - UUCSV, Black Mountain.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the
or to the ALS Association - Jim "Catfish" Hunter Chapter, whose kind donation of a powerchair allowed Friend to make his way around Highland Farms and to enjoy countless walks in the fresh air. Donations to ALS (www.alsa.org) may be sent to 4 North Blount Street, 2nd Floor, Raleigh, NC 27601. A memorial and remembrance service will be scheduled in mid-February, 2013.
The family would like to extend special thanks, love and appreciation to all his wonderful and loving caregivers at Highland Farms over the past eighteen months and CarePartners Hospice over the past few months. Your love and care for him and for us has truly been a blessing to him and to all of us.
Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Dec. 18, 2012