Wickham Skinner, advocate of local conservation and education

Longtime St. George resident Wickham Skinner Jr. died at the age of 94 at the end of January. He was a recognized expert in industrial production and enjoyed a 24-year career on the faculty of Harvard Business School. In 1984 he and his wife Alice moved to a 28-acre Saltwater farm in St. George. The couple were active sailors. Wick also earned his pilot’s license and took up painting soon after moving here. He also enjoyed playing tennis and did so into his early 90s.

Wick served on the boards of many educational and community organizations in Maine, but members of the St. George community will long remember Wick for the significant contributions he made to the quality of life here. A man deeply committed to conservation of the natural environment, he was an active champion of the work of the Georges River Land Trust. As John Hufnagel, vice-chair of the Trust’s board, noted after Wick’s death, “We will miss Wick. He was always generous with his time and pondered questions asked him with his open intellect and experience as a listener. He delivered advice with a personal caring and grace which was always taken to heart by us because we knew he cared deeply. Wick acted upon his beliefs with certainty, and put a large piece of his beautiful land in a conservation easement to help protect forever a stretch of our treasured St. George River.”

A distinguished educator, Wick also became a booster of the St. George School after it became its own Municipal School Unit. School superintendent Mike Felton recalls Wick coming to him more than three years ago with an offer to fund a project that had a 50/50 chance of success, something the school might not normally do because of the expense and risk involved. “So we began the Makerspace initiative,” Felton said. “For me and so many staff, students and community members, Wick reminded us that anything is possible and that this school community can serve, challenge and engage all students. For some students, the Makerspace has been a lifesaver. Where they may have been less engaged and drifting through school in the past, now they are designing 3D models and building and programming robots that perform specific tasks.  For all students, the Makerspace Initiative challenges them to apply their creativity and intellect to solve problems. It has moved our students from being consumers of technology to producers—and with that change comes a feeling of empowerment that is priceless.”

Wick Skinner loved St. George and loved Maine. That he showed that love so very concretely has been a great gift. —JW

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