Charles W. Skinner Jr.

Jan 31, 2019
Charles Skinner Jr.

St. George — Charles Wickham Skinner Jr. died Jan. 28, 2019.

Born Feb. 20, 1924, in Cincinnati, Wick earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Yale, class of 1944. Enlisting in the Army after graduation, Wick was assigned to work on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N.M.. Honorably discharged in 1946, Wick enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, where he earned his MBA. He joined Minneapolis Honeywell upon graduation in 1948. After 10 years of successful management experience in Minneapolis and Florida, he returned to Harvard, earning a doctorate in management in 1960.

Wick then began a distinguished 24-year teaching career at Harvard Business School. Wick recalled his gratitude in 1960, when the Harvard faculty approved his degree. “I climbed up the steep hill behind the house in Weston (Mass.) to look at the stars and felt awash in appreciation for all that had happened. I descended, feeling that I had expressed my thanks that winter night to the cosmos.” He became a recognized expert in industrial production, did research in Turkey, Pakistan and Vietnam, was an adviser to Instituto de Centro America de Administracion de Empresas in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, served as associate dean of the Business School, and was appointed James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration.

In 1946, Wick married Alice Sturges Blackmer. Wick and Alice were summer residents on Spruce Head Island beginning in the early 1960s, and when Wick retired from Harvard Business School in 1984 at the age of 60, he and Alice settled into a busy life in St. George, where they had moved years earlier. “I did not want to continue (teaching at HBS) until I dropped in my tracks or failed,” Wick explained years later. “I was ready for a new environment, one that would be more balanced and diverse, with opportunities to make a big contribution, work on important issues and be successful. And I wanted to do it in Maine.”

Wick continued professional activities as a member of many corporate boards, including Bath Iron Works, Scientific Atlanta and Helix Technology, and was active in many educational and community organizations, including the Natural Resource Council of Maine, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, and the Georges River Land Trust. He served as president of the Farnsworth Art Museum Board of Trustees, and was a board member of the University of Maine system. As Wick put it, “After moving to Maine, I worked in many sectors: research, writing and speaking, consulting and serving on various boards of trustees, being elected president of the Production and Operations Management Society, fundraising for nonprofit organizations, becoming a painter, sailing and working on a 28-acre saltwater farm.”

Wick and Alice were active sailors, enjoying over time a series of cruising boats. He was also an avid tennis player, continuing to embrace the competitiveness of this sport into his early 90s. Wick said, “Flying, like sports, boats, painting, nature and the beauty of Maine, had over the years lifted my whole life into excitement, with tangible, fulfilling experiences.” With typical determination, Wick obtained his pilot’s private license in Rockland at the age of 60. Throughout his life, Wick was a tireless traveler. He never failed to bring his paper, brushes, pens and his watercolors to record the everyday aspects of his visits.

Wick conveyed a spirit of positive energy and goodwill to all who interacted with him. Besides being a wonderful mentor to former students and local businessmen, Wick was a caring father, grandfather and uncle. He and Alice welcomed family and friends to their home with gracious hospitality, where stimulating conversation reigned. In particular, his family and friends will treasure their visits to Spruce Head Island and Saint George, as well as Wick’s visits to family in Virginia and Vermont for annual Thanksgiving celebrations, which always included a spirited touch football game and a Friday evening talent show. Wick was a consummate storyteller. His children, nephews and nieces grew up on Wick’s “Car 703” episodes.

He died at his home in St. George, in the company of his two children, Charles B. Skinner of St. George and Jacqui Skinner Light, and her husband, Galen David Light, of Danvers, Mass.; and his grandsons, Galen W. Light of Buxton and Charles F. "Chip" Skinner of St. George. He leaves a sister, Perry Skinner Martin, of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Bridgton; a brother-in-law, Hugh Blackmer, of St. George; a dozen nieces and nephews; three grandchildren, Noelle Fay of Danvers, Mass., and the previously mentioned  Galen W. Light and Charles F. Skinner; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Alice, predeceased him in 2010, as did his sister Carol Skinner Lawson in 2016.

A memorial service for family and friends will be held in the coming months, time and place to be announced.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Patricia Hubbard | Feb 04, 2019 18:34

Wick and Alice were an incredible pair. I loved being in the company of both. Such generous and interesting people. Conversations were never dull and I always learned a lot. God speed, Wick. You made this world a better place.

Posted by: JOAN WELSH | Feb 04, 2019 10:49

What a remarkable man Wick has been and he will be greatly missed.  He has given so, so much to our state and local community.

Posted by: Linda Falkenmeyer | Feb 02, 2019 19:05

My deepest condolences to the Skinner family. Alice and Wick meant the world to me..

Posted by: Town of St. George | Feb 02, 2019 10:17

The world is a better place thanks to the work that both Wick and Alice did throughout their lifetimes.  Those lucky enough to have met them know this.  Kate Hewlett

Posted by: Amanda Parten | Feb 01, 2019 17:16

My deepest condolences to the Skinner family. As a former Minnesotan and employee with the Farnsworth, Mr. Skinner was a kind man to all that had the wonderful opportunity of knowing him. Blessings to the family.

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