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Wayne D. Skill (November 25, 1925 - February 12, 2013)

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Wayne Skill was born in his grandmother's home in Long Beach, California, on November 25, 1925. He lived in Long Beach from birth until 1989, when he retired.

His "Pappy" was a shoemaker with his own shop in Long Beach who loved singing opera (and who sang well). Wayne played piano accompanying him.

The shoes that Wayne is wearing today are shoes that his father crafted for him some 40 years ago, still in wonderful condition and worn for years.

After graduating from high school, Wayne volunteered to serve in the Navy during World War II, the Navy being his dream from a young age. This interest was influenced by a family friend.

After he achived qualification as a submariner, there were no submarine slot openings, and he was reassigned as a machinist. Wayne served on the USS Holland, USS Piedmont and the USS Argonne.

He served until 1946 when he was honorably discharged.

During the following four years, Wayne worked at the Navy yard in Long Beach as a machinist. He had just begun classes at Oregon State when he was recalled to the Navy during the Korean War in 1950.

After his honorable discharge in 1952, he attended the University of California-Los Angeles, achieving a Master of Science in physical education and education, and also doing doctoral work at the University of Southern California.

In 1953, he married Colleen Reed.

After stints of working at Marshall Junior High and Poly High in Long Beach, he was hired by Long Beach City College to start the wrestling and men's and women's gymnastics program. He spent the next 34 years teaching pre-med anatomy, physiology and coaching gymnastics, weight lifting and wrestling.

During this time, he also earned his black belt in judo, and motorcycles became a permanent part of his life.

Many summer breaks were spent traveling in Europe, Germany being his main focus with its gymnastic programs and seminars. One year, he took his Goldwing with him, taking in a rally and touring several countries.

In his 40s, he decided to follow his interest in bagpipes, "the great pipes." He trained under Seamus MacNeil, the co-founder of the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland, attending several summer retreats in Idaho instructed by Seamus.

Becoming friends, they traveled in Scotland together for a short jaunt. Seamus actually offered to allow Wayne to use his personal plaid in his kilt. Wayne was the official piper on the ship Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, which he took up for a year until the death of his wife, Colleen.

Through the years, music was a huge part of Wayne's life. He learned to play the piano at an early age and later bagpipes, harp, guitar, banjo and clarinet. He also dabbled in playing recorders.

Upon his retirement in 1989, Wayne and brother Neil sailed his 36-foot oceangoing Toshiba sailboat, the Ceol Mor, up the coast against prevailing winds and current to Sequim Bay. There, a local siren named Sharon lured Wayne into a life of joy and laughter with their loving dogs for 22 wonderful years.

Wayne passed away from complications arising from Alzheimer's disease.

He is survived by his loving wife, Sharon; two sons, David (Nancy) Stiner and Tony Stiner; and grandchildren Jessica Perry and Daniel Stiner. He is also survived by his brother, Neil Travis Skill; nephews Neil V. Skill and Lt. Col. Wayne (Georgia) Skill; great-nephews Travis and Edward Skill; and three puppies, Molly, Keiki and Koko.

A memorial service for Wayne D. Skill will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2013, at 11 a.m. at Sequim View Cemetery, 1505 Sequim-Dungeness Way in Sequim. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donations to the Western Washington , www.alzwa.org; or to Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County, 540 East Eighth Street, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Feb. 22, 2013
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