Never Forgotten

FREWSBURG – Despite the cold and rain, area residents gathered to reflect upon the life of Gordon “Gordie” and Joyce Skinner on Thursday.

During the memorial park dedication, area residents remembered a couple whose impact on the community will never be forgotten.

The ceremony was opened by a prayer and poem, which ended with the words, “We’re reminded they’re gone, but never forgotten.”

After the poem, the families of the Skinners gathered near the bench for the unveiling of a black granite stone piece for the memorial park. Words of introduction by Patty Ekstrom followed.

“Gordie and Joyce would not be happy to know that we were fussing over them like this,” Ekstrom said. “But, I don’t think they realize how many people they affected with their generosity. … We want the community to never forget what kind and generous people Gordie and Joyce have been – and all we can do is pay it forward.”

Although he could not make it to the ceremony, a letter by Assemblyamn Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, was read next. It stated, “It is wonderful to have this park as a memorial to Gordon and Joyce Skinner, who left us so tragically earlier this year. The generous donations of memorials from friends and neighbors are a fitting tribute to the Skinners, who are missed by so many, and will ensure that their memory lives long into the future.”

Dave Hamilton, a longtime friend of the Skinners, spoke next. He began his speech by stating that he was supposed to write a speech, but instead he was going to shoot from the hip because that’s what he and Gordie did.

“I don’t want this park to be a memorial for their passing – it should be a place to think about how they lived and not how they died,” Hamilton said. “The sun reflects very nicely off the stones here, and it came to mind that I would call this place ‘Reflections’ because it’s a place we should come and reflect on the good things.”

Attendees were then given the opportunity to take the mic and speak openly. The Rev. Mel McGinnis closed the ceremony with another prayer.

The dedication ceremony was made possible by contributions from the community to a memorial fund in the Skinners’ honor. In addition to the ceremony, the funds were utilized to install a bench with an inscription that reads, “A life that touches others, goes on forever.” A black granite stone from Vermont with the faces of the Skinners and their dog Hannah laser etched was unveiled during the ceremony. It includes a passage that reads “No one is ever really lost to us, as long as we remember them – Semper Fidelis.” Both were donated by Steve and Kim Lundsten of Jensen-Haglund Memorials.

A fallen soldier statue was donated by Kurt Dickerson, Terry Smith and Dave Hamilton, veteran friends from TitanX. There were also two weeping cherry trees donated by neighbors. Perennial flowers from the Skinner’s garden, pink and white, will also be planted in the following weeks.

The memorial park is located on Parkway Drive in Frewsburg, which is the entrance to the Willis Hale Town Park, and is directly across from the Memorial Veteran’s Park.