Arthur “Paul” Skillin went to his reward on April 20th, 2021, at his home in Lewes Delaware. Paul was born in 1950 in Montclair, New Jersey to Edward and Jane Skillin. He leaves behind his deeply loved wife and best friend, Brenda Ross, his three children, Rachel Patrick (Brendan) of Safety Harbor, FL, Adam Skillin (Megan) of Freehold, NJ, and Noah Skillin (Holly) of Washington, DC, two step-children, Hayley Treadway (Dustin) of Kenosha, WI and Jeremy Ross of New Bedford, MA, five grandchildren, Cole and Ruby Patrick, Arlo Skillin, Lennon and Hunter Treadway, a brother, Edward “John” Skillin (Mary Lou) of Morristown, NJ, three sisters, Elizabeth “Honey” Flanagan (John) of Clifton, NJ, Susan Thuvanuti (Pow) of La Mirada, CA, and Mary Jane “Mimi” Davis of Brick, NJ, a foster sister, Mary Beth DiGiacomo of Verona, NJ, and three nieces, Erin, Elizabeth, and Nancy.
Paul graduated from St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, NJ in 1968. He received a B.A. from Fordham University in 1972, an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and several Masters Certificates from George Washington University.
Paul worked for over thirty years in contract management in the defense/aerospace industry. The most satisfying day of his career was the day he retired.
Paul’s greatest joys were Brenda, his children and grandchildren, travel, music, and time spent in reverence of the natural world. He loved jigsaw puzzles and the kitchen table was always home to a working puzzle of 500 to 1000 pieces. Paul had a sweet tooth and never met a pastry or a piece of birthday cake he didn’t like. He was also a connoisseur of New York-style pizza and would eat pizza every day if given free rein.
Paul had an uncanny ability to find lost things. He excelled at finding treasures in the most unlikely places. He also had an incredible knack for giving the perfect gift.
Paul had a remarkable collection of T-shirts from his travels, particularly pizza joints, pubs, and breweries. Oh, how he loved a good Porter. He raised a pint of Porter in many fine pubs in his travels. His toast was always, “Slainte,” Irish Gaelic for “Health.” Later in life, he developed an appreciation for wine, especially those from Portugal.
As a young man, he protested the Vietnam War in Washington, kept company with a band of rebels, hooligans, and longhairs, and remained politically active his entire life. Paul went to Woodstock with a ticket his mother bought him -- one of the very few attendees who actually had a ticket. Throughout the subsequent decades, he would ask anyone traveling to the area to keep an eye out for the mud-caked sleeping bag he was forced to leave behind.
Paul was a man of many interests and talents, including his noteworthy skill as a photographer. He was an avid reader. He loved bird watching and filled his backyard with bird feeders and birdhouses. He liked to body surf, bicycle, beachcomb for sea glass, and work out. Paul was an advocate for the environment. He was a champion for the underdog with a particular attachment to Native Americans. He was industrious and was always improving his home and gardens. He loved helping and volunteered for many organizations including the Friends of Cape Henlopen, the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware, the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, and numerous litter clean up events.
Paul’s mantra was, “Make progress every day” and he did. A saying he lived by was, “Practice kindness because it will bring happiness.”
Paul was rarely happier than when he and Brenda were traveling, especially internationally. Some of his best times were spent snorkeling off of Grand Cayman, beachcombing in Nevis, drinking wine and eating pastries in Portugal, hiking on a volcano in the Azores, speaking French in Quebec City, or exploring a castle in the Irish countryside.
Paul retained a childlike innocence that children recognized and gravitated toward. As father and grandfather “GrandPaul,” loved reading children’s books to his little ones. Watching him read to his grandchildren revealed a tenderness that could melt the coldest heart.
The magnitude of Paul’s intractable physical pain during the last six months of his life was greater than anyone should ever have to endure. If Medical Aid in Dying were legal in Delaware, Paul would have chosen this compassionate way to end his suffering.
If you wish to honor Paul, please plant a native tree, protest injustice wherever you see it, and fight for the right to die with dignity. Please contact your legislators to encourage them to support Medical Aid in Dying in Delaware and other states where it has not yet been enacted. Or give a gift to one of his favorite causes: Red Cloud Indian School, Compassion and Choices, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, and the Sierra Club.
A private celebration of Paul’s life will be held for friends and family at a later date.
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