OBITUARY

Edna Virginia Skinner

May 28, 1928February 9, 2013
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Once, there was a tree… And she loved a little boy. And every day the boy would come And he would gather her leaves And make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk And swing from her branches And eat apples And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree… very much… And the tree was happy. But time went by, And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone.

Then, one day, the boy came to the tree and the tree said: –“Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy!” –“I am too big to climb and play” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?” –“I’m sorry”, said the tree, “but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you’ll be happy.” And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy…

But the boy stayed away for a long time… and the tree was sad. And then one day the boy came back, and the tree shook with joy, and she said: –“Come, Boy come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.” “I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy. “I want a house to keep me warm”, he said. “I and want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?” –“I have no house”, said the tree. “The forest is my house”, said the tree. “But you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.” And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time… And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. –“Come, Boy” she whispered, “Come and play.” –“I am too old and sad to play”, said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me away from here. Can you give me a boat?” –“Cut down my trunk and make a boat”, said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy.” And so the boy cut down her trunk And made a boat and sailed away. And the tree was happy… But not really.

And after a long time the boy came back again. –“I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree, “but I have nothing left to give you – My apples are gone.” “My branches are gone”, said the tree. “You cannot swing on them.” “I am too old to swing on branches”, said the boy. –“My trunk is gone”, said the tree. “You cannot climb.” –“I am too tired to climb”, said the boy. –“I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry…” –“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.” –“Well”, said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down… sit down and rest.” And the boy did. And the tree was happy… The end. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

“Eddie!” “Ma!” “ Mommy!” “Mom!” “Gram!” “Aunt Eddie!” “Great Grammy!” “Little One!” All of these familiar and personal names are what voices, young and old, called our real-life Giving Tree. Not sure really how to sum up the endless love Edna Virginia Skinner had for every member of her family and those people during the course of her lifetime lucky enough to be counted amongst her friends. Shel Silverstein must have known her, felt the power of a woman who never placed herself first, led with her heart, gave more when it seemed there was nothing more that could be given, and still, with so much taken from her body through strokes and illnesses that would have been more than any of us could have handled, offered the comfort of her spirit to those less courageous than she.

Douglas, Arizona: a small town in southeastern Arizona not far from the Mexican border- was her birthplace. The world changed for all of us on May 28, 1928. Eddie was a brightly shining star in a family of brothers who grew up to be world class champion cowboys (their skills re-writing the standards of the Rodeo Hall of Fame), another brother who was honored by the United States for giving his life to save others, two sisters who turned heads with their brains and beauty, and parents who blended cultures, religions, and languages in the best possible ways. Legendary beauty, brilliant mind, quick wit and talent so great the USO featured her as a performer while still in high school, Eddie filled her life with music, dance, literature, and mastering the skills of business until she met the love of her life. Minnie Kennon, Eddie’s older sister, had married a Chicagoan named Robert Skinner who was serving in the Air Force and had a younger brother George who was serving in the army. On June 12, 1946 Eddie and George were married in Douglas and set out for a life in Chicago.

Eddie and George moved to Chicago sharing an apartment with Minnie, Bob and her new in-laws. Close family! She didn’t mind the cramped quarters as she was beginning her new life with George. Shortly the newly- weds moved into their own apartment and brought home their daughter Barbara Diane. Over the years more little Skinners were added to the family: George Jr., Frances and Steve.

Eddie returned to the work force in 1964. She found success in everything she did as her natural ability to lead, teach and empower those with whom she worked amplified her intelligence leading to numerous promotions over the years. She spent decades of her life rising up the ranks at Bankers Life and Casualty Company where she forged close friendships with many people especially Helen Luif and Margie Bronstein. The three of them planned many trips together mostly to Las Vegas to “see the shows.” Ok...And maybe…MAYBE…gamble a little too!

The center of her life was her family. Music and dance were everywhere. Sports were front and center too. Baseball, football, and basketball all coached by George Sr. at the Neighborhood Boys Club and cheered on by Eddie. A gathering of the Kennon family turned into a hoe-down with mandolins, violins, guitars, drums, and piano with Eddie carrying the melody line front and center on her tenor sax. Not a song has been written that Eddie didn’t know. She could sing anything and better than the artist who made the song famous. While the parents of other kids were horrified when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Eddie was standing in line at the Amphitheater Box Office to buy tickets to take Barb, George, Fran, Steve and HER Mom, Grandma Kennon, (straight from small town Douglas) to see the Beatles perform. Live. Fourth row center! Cue the screaming!!!!!!!Beatles at Wrigley Field? Eddie was there. White Sox park? Done. Major “street cred” for the Skinner kids having a Mom who knew the words to “Eight Days a Week” and could recite lines from “Help” and “A Hard Day’s Night” the two Beatles movies seen by only those under 25 and, of course, Eddie Skinner.

Having Eddie as your Mom was like winning the lottery each day. Jackie- Min and Bob’s daughter- was never really a niece but another daughter and sister expanding the kids’ total to five. She loved so completely it felt as if there were no one else to steal her attention. Unconditional love was given freely by Eddie, a gift to be treasured and protected, preserved, honored and cherished as it nurtured the recipients during their own life journeys. Her versatility as a mother was always on display as she navigated school plays, cheerleading, dance lessons, city football championships, fishing under bridges, hockey on frozen fields, puppet shows, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, parent/teacher conferences, band and choir concerts, beauty pageants, graduations-a list too long and diverse to think it could be led by one set of parents. But for Mom it was as natural as breathing. Sharing an experience with her children was indeed oxygen for her.

Eddie and George celebrated the marriages of their children and welcomed grandchildren with an enthusiasm unmatched in the Grandparents’ Hall of Fame. Barb gave birth to Michael, Tracy and Carrie; George Jr. is Craig’s proud father; Fran is the mother of Max and Chloe; Steve is the father of Brian and Stefanie. Gram Skinner was like no other. Getting to stay at Gram’s was better than going to Disneyland. Exploring your curiosity, expanding your creativity, being the center of the universe awaited you at Gram’s. Mikey, Jake, Mitchell, Aliya, Jaxon, Jayden, Jaelynn, are the lucky great grandchildren having had some time with Gram, however short it may seem.

A life centered on family brought her great joy and also, great sorrow. Only six short months after she and George Sr. retired, planning to live next door to Min and Bob in Tucson, Arizona, George succumbed to lung cancer. For the first time in forty four years, Eddie was without her life partner, her best friend, the only man she ever loved. Family poured into the hurt, sharing the pain with her and loving her more to lift her up. Funny thing though, it was she who healed the spirits of others, who helped everyone understand that we are not made for time but for eternity and that we never have to say good-bye. In this moment of spousal loneliness she held fast to her life with George and their love in order to comfort others.

It takes courage to start life anew after you have retired and thought you knew your future’s path. Nothing was as it was supposed to be. Music and dancing once again lifted her up as she forged new friendships at the “Young at Heart Singles Club” and “The Spares Sunday Evening Club” two senior singles dancing clubs that brought such joy back into her adult life. Dance lessons and parties at the Levy Center, Copernicus Center and various VFW Halls showcased the USO star once again as the belle of the ball. Eddie mastered 60 different ballroom dance steps in addition to the basic steps for the jive, waltz, cha cha, tango, rhumba, fox trot, salsa and meringue. At this rate, someone would have to invent more dances! Her friends Andy, Zita, Edna, Frankie, Gaspar, Phyllis, Lydia, Angelo, Marion, John & Dolores, Annette, Lottie, and Spike (yep, Spike!) and many others helped her dance again in so many ways.

The greatest pain a parent can experience is the loss of a child. This is true even if that child was one week short of her fifty-first birthday. But on June 11, 1998, (her daughter Fran’s birthday), Eddie received the news that her beloved daughter Barb had died. When the news came, for one brief moment, Eddie and George were walking up the stairs again to their first apartment with their little bundle of a daughter. It was only yesterday it seemed. That memory filled her, strengthened her as she knew her power as a mother would be called upon to help the grieving of Barb’s children and her spouse. As she struggled to breathe, she would put her needs behind those of her family as she helped heal the hurt this unexpected loss shook upon the family. All she had to give in comfort of those she loved she freely extended.

There were grandchildren to raise and Gram was key. Gram breathed life back into the family. There were dances to learn, costumes to be made, trips to be taken, songs to be sung, graduations to attend to, weddings to celebrate, babies to be born. Life is a song and love is the music. This unshakeable belief restored her spirit. Living it, gave her strength. By her example everyone learned how to breathe again.

Over the course of the last years, Eddie faced her own tough challenges as a stroke tried to define her, not knowing that was impossible. Therapists at the Chicago Rehabilitation Center taught this dancer how to walk again and cheered as she took her first steps against all odds. Several years later another stroke would take her speech and finally her ability to walk. Despite the struggles she faced adjusting to the limitations of her body, her sense of humor was intact, ever present to turn her situation into a moment of hilarity lifting the worry from everyone’s shoulders while reassuring all that she was whole on the inside. Funny though, despite being unable to speak, Eddie could still sing. Actually not even sure how to explain it and her doctors simply gave up trying. For sure, there was no sweeter sound than Eddie singing “Christmas in Chicago, Is My Kind of Christmas…” at the annual Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert Eddie attended every year for 18 years. Birthday parties for Eddie became gifts for everyone. Thanksgiving dinners echoed Eddie’s gratefulness for her family and theirs for her graceful presence. Christmas was a celebration of life anew. Each new year shared with her family was simply heaven on earth for her and those who loved her.

On February 9, 2013, in the wee hours of the morning, Eddie, Ma, Mom, Mommy, Aunt Eddie, Gram, Great Grammy, Little One was called home. The lessons she taught us are so simple yet so powerful: Dance as though no one is watching you; Love as though you have never been hurt before; Sing as though no one can hear you; Live as though heaven is on earth.

And most importantly, remember to breathe.

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Funeral Mass

    Friday, February 15, 2013

OTHER SERVICES:

  • Burial

Memories

Edna Virginia Skinner

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carrie carter

February 9, 2014

Long gone, but never forgotten.

michael boywid

March 20, 2013

Gram. you were the best! I will always cherish the memories we had together, Love you always and forever ..... Michael

February 14, 2013

So sorry to see the passing of your Mom. My thoughts and prays are with you and your family.

John Fayfar

Jim Hammersmith

February 14, 2013

George,Fran,Steve
So sorry for your loss.She was a
wonderful woman and mother.

February 13, 2013

I am so sorry, please accept my heartfelt sympathy. L. Hessberger

February 13, 2013

I am so sorry for your loss.
Betty (Boywid) Lattie

February 13, 2013

Dear Fran & Family, I worked with Edna at Bankers and enjoyed all of are years there. She was a wonderful person,my family and I will keep her in our prayers. Nancy Giegoldt

February 13, 2013

So sorry to hear about your Mom. Our thoughts are with you.
Jon and Janet Geier

Carrie Neal-Carter

February 12, 2013

My sugarpie Eddiepooh. I sure did miss you. I hated that we lost contact. But Fran, Carrie, I know you two well. She will always be in my heart. My Prayer goes out to the family, be strong. We loved her, but God loves her best. I worked with her at Bankers. Wonderful, beautiful lady, God rest her soul.

Kelly Klaisner

February 12, 2013

Gram was such an amazing and beautiful woman , and was so wonderful to me. We loved her so much. I am blessed to have known her.
Kelly Klaisner

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