NORTH YARMOUTH — James Andrew Skillings, 76, of North Yarmouth and Tallahassee, Fla., died May 7 at his home in Maine, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born Nov. 7, 1936, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of Donald and Rita Skillings. He was educated in the Portland and Cape Elizabeth schools, and he graduated from Cape Elizabeth High School in 1955. He attended Norwich University, was a brother in the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and graduated with a degree in government in 1959. Skillings married Julie Angela Watts of Barre, Vt., in June 1959, and always said he knew from the first day he met her that he would marry her. The couple had four children.
Skillings had a distinguished military career. In 1963 he was stationed in Illesheim, Germany. In June 1965, he returned to Fort Benning, Ga., to attend the infantry career course. On June 30, 1966, he reported to the 1st Infantry Division, Republic of Vietnam and was assigned to the 4th Cavalry 1st Squadron. After a meritorious tour in Vietnam, during which he was awarded four Bronze Stars, including one for valor in combat, and a Purple Heart, he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1967.
Following his discharge from the Army, the Skillings family moved back to Maine so he could take over the family business, Yankee Distributors. In 1980, he merged the family business with Cumberland and York Distributors, and he continued as vice president and general manager until he and his wife moved to Florida in 1993. They moved to Naples and then to Bonita Springs, where Skillings was highly involved in the Highland Woods Golf Community. He also got his real estate license and worked for U.S. Homes during that time. In 2005, Jim and Julie retired, traveled the country in an RV, and moved back to Maine.
Skillings was actively involved in many different community organizations, including Casco Bay Youth Hockey, the Maine Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and was a goal judge for the Maine Mariners. One of his proudest achievements was helping to bring the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Photo Replica, affectionately known as “The Traveling Wall,” to Portland in 1989. Skillings enjoyed spending time on his boat in Casco Bay, golfing at Highland Woods, and playing cards and games with family and friends. He was a voracious reader of biographies and was a history buff.
He lovingly cared for his first wife during her terminal battle with cancer. In August 2011 he married Judith Elaine Davis, and they lived together in Tallahassee and North Yarmouth. While in Tallahassee they were very active in St. Peter’s Anglican Church. He became an avid fan and season ticket-holder for the Florida State University football and basketball
Skillings is survived by his wife, Judith, of Tallahassee, Fla.; his daughters, Jodi Coffee, and her husband, Tim, of Windham, Judi Hawkes and her husband, Richard, of Cumberland; his sons, James Skillings, and his wife, Gina, of North Yarmouth, Donald Skillings, and his wife, Kathleen, of Skowhegan; his grandchildren, Natasha Balzano, and her husband, D.J., Joshua, Matthew, Christina, Richard, Olivia, Elizabeth, Jessica, Cameron, Matthew, and his wife, Cait; his great-grandson, Tyler; his stepsons, Donald Stacy, and his wife, Denise, and Duncan Stacy, and his wife, Cynthia; his step-granddaughter, Amelie; his sisters, Susie Laughton, and her husband, Norm, of Scarborough, and Donna Kessler, and her husband, Warren, of Manchester, and many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 16 at Wilde Chapel in Evergreen Cemetery, 672 Stevens Ave., Portland. Burial will immediately follow the service.
In lieu of flowers for those who wish, donations in Skillings’ memory may be made to Maine Children’s Cancer Program, 100 U.S. Route 1, Unit 107, Scarborough, ME 04074 or Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough ME 04074.