Jennie Hamilton Skillman of Crescent Beach passed away peacefully at her home just before dawn on Christmas Day, following a quick but fearless bout with cancer; her daughter Maggie and dear friend Toni Brown were at her side.
The daughter of George William and Margaret Kelly Hamilton, Jennie was born in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 3, 1948. After a childhood spent in Palatka and Crescent Beach, Jennie graduated from DeLand High School in 1966. She attended Vanderbilt and Florida State universities, graduating from Flagler College. She used her college years to travel extensively through studies based in Mexico and Italy. A child of the “60s, Jennie was involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements in Atlanta, where she lived in a women”s commune and joined the Venceremos Brigade, a coalition of young people supportive of the Cuban revolution. She met and married fellow activist Jim Skillman in 1978. The Skillmans moved to Birmingham, Ala., where they owned and operated a printing press, raised a family and a huge organic garden, and became part of a close-knit neighborhood.
Following the death of her mother in 1993, Jennie and her children moved back to Crescent Beach where she immediately involved herself in the community through her political activism and her tenure with the St. Johns County Mental Health Department. Active in the creation of the OUR Center in Hastings, Fla., Jennie also worked tirelessly with the local food bank and migrant worker population, championing the causes of those less able to speak for themselves. Later volunteer activities included working with the Harvest of Hope fundraisers, the Wildflower Clinic in St. Augustine and a recent organic garden project at the St. Francis House.
A woman of strong conviction, Jennie will forever be remembered for her acerbic sense of humor, her eclectically creative “boogie art”, an especial talent for composing country music songs and the uncanny ability to finish the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in 20 minutes. She will also be remembered for always giving away more than she ever kept for herself.
Those left to celebrate her life include the following: children, Aubrey Lee (Vicki Villadoniga-Skillman) and Margaret Kelly “Maggie” Skillman; grandson, Benjamin Richard Skillman; siblings, Anne Adams (Bob), Becky Greenberg (Michael J.), G. William Hamilton III (Bryanne Ambrose), Patrick S. Hamilton (Jean K. Dowdy); nieces and nephews, Jennifer Kapsa, Edward Strozier, India Dittemore, William Strozier, Sudie Nolan-Cassimatis, Hamilton Nolan, Jacob Hamilton, Grey Hamilton, Anna Hamilton, Ian Hamilton and seven great nieces and nephews; lifelong best friend Craig Eason and beloved canine companion, Skee Skillman.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Lohman Auditorium at The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bio-Science, 9505 Ocean Shore Blvd (A1A South) in Marineland, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, please volunteer wherever you see a need! Donations may be made in Jennie”s memory to: The Good Samaritan Wildflower Health Clinic (www.goodsamstaug.org), the St. Francis House (www.stfrancisshelter.org) or Community Hospice (www.communityhospice.com), whose invaluable help and kindness will always be gratefully remembered.