Jack of all trades, lover of outdoors Skinner dies

Barrister, angler, scribbler and teacher, Joseph H. Skinner donned many hats during his lifetime, but now he's gone fishing in the "waters of the universe," as his family says. Skinner died suddenly in his home on June 10. He was 71.

Born in Denver, the Colorado native spent most of his childhood and adult life in Cedaredge and Grand Junction, working as a probation officer, legal adviser in a bank and an attorney before retiring, sort of. After that, he taught at Colorado Mesa University, wrote columns and a book and was a soccer coach.

Throughout all of that, he was an outdoorsman, but loved fishing the most.

"He was into many things," one of his daughters, Jessica Skinner, said of her father. "His mother was a nurse and his father was a Boy Scout executive, so as soon as my dad could walk his dad would take him fishing and to the Boy Scout camps and stuff like that. He really grew up in the outdoors."

Skinner's family moved to Cedaredge when he was still in middle school, eventually graduating from Cedaredge High School, lettering in four sports. He immediately went to college, earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado.

It was there he met his wife, Linda, who also shared an interest in writing and the outdoors.

"He met my mom in a class," Jessica Skinner said. "She was wearing hiking boots. He thought that was really alluring. They got married in 1969."

The couple had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary three days before his death.

After working a short time as a juvenile probation officer in Grand Junction — where he developed an interest in the law, Jessica Skinner said — Skinner decided to become a lawyer, returning to Boulder to earn his juris doctorate from CU's Law School in 1976.

Returning to Grand Junction, Skinner first worked as a deputy prosecutor in the 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office, later going into private practice specializing in land use, zoning and water policy.

In 1993, he left private practice to work at what eventually became Wells Fargo Bank, focusing on trust and financial services. Twelve years later, Skinner retired from the bank, but not fully. He worked as an "of counsel" specializing in estate, trust and probate matters for a couple of local law firms, most recently Dufford Waldeck Milburn & Krohn.

In his spare time, Skinner did many other things, such as writing, acting as a CMU trustee, working as a mediator in legal disputes and practicing his tai chi. He and Linda Skinner were officers — Joe as secretary/treasurer and Linda as program director — of the Western Colorado Writers' Forum, a Grand Junction group that aims to foster writing that advances the culture of western Colorado.

He spent many hours in public service, and in 2008 was named Citizen of the Year by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

He wrote a yet-to-be published book on the Gunnison Gorge and wrote two flash fiction stories that were read by actors on KAFM community radio as part of the forum's Write Out Loud program.

In addition to Jessica, Skinner had two other children, Amber and Tobias, both of whom were adopted from South Korea. He also had one granddaughter, Raina.

While his funeral service took place on Friday, a more public event is planned for 3 p.m. June 24 to celebrate his life. That will be held at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1425 N. Fifth St. in Grand Junction.

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