Roger Jay Skinner
Herkimer, New York
Roger Jay Skinner, 72, of Whitesboro, passed away on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The Skinner Family lost their hero peacefully and yet unexpectedly at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY.
Roger was born on March 28, 1948 in Herkimer, son of the late Hiram J. and Leanor (Helmer) Skinner. Roger was joyfully united in marriage on July 27, 1968 to Mary L. Kitts in Richfield Springs, NY, his childhood sweetheart. They met in the kindergarten class at the Richfield Springs School. They were soulmates and best friends. The couple enjoyed a blessed and adventurous life together of nearly 53 years. Their profound love for each other will forever live on, even though separated momentarily in death.
Roger was a dedicated, generous, kind, and loving man who had an unwavering devotion to God, his family, civic duty, and friends. Selflessly, he was always generous and ready to lend a hand to anyone, especially if it included his favorite pastime, cutting down trees. You could always count on Roger to wish you a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, whether you were down the street or on the other side of the world. He will be greatly missed by many who knew him to be the amazing man of integrity that the Mohawk Valley and his friends and family were blessed with and saw firsthand his Heart of Gold. He was truly a great man and a friend to all. He was always ready with an interesting history lesson of the area he proudly called home. He was that “Nice Guy” who you thought only existed as a myth. Roger was a mentor and role model to many. A true gentleman. The best boss in the world. His cowboy hat and smile could be seen from the other side of the golf course.
His large and loving family who were blessed to share him with the world are his beautiful wife, Mary Kitts Skinner; his three “Favorite” daughters, Melanie, Cynthia, and Sarah. All three were his Favorite Daughter as he would often introduce them. They loved and adored their Dad and will miss his warm hugs. All three picked up special traits from him. Melanie received his unparalleled work ethic and love for people. Cynthia received his willingness to drop everything to help someone in need. Sarah received his love of art and the outdoors. Roger was proud of his family far beyond what words could express.
Roger leaves behind Melanie Kimball and husband James Kimball and their daughter, Sahara Rose Kimball who shared the same birthday; Cynthia and husband Samuel Lamanna III, and their children, Victoria Leogrande who he shared his loving heart, and her husband Christian Leogrande and Samuel Roger Jay “RJay” Lamanna IV who shared his name; Sarah and husband Michael Demarse and their son Brady Elias Demarse who shared the twinkle in his eye. He loved each of their uniqueness and celebrated them by teaching, working, and relaxing together. He always said about his sons-in-law that they were brought into the family and were handpicked specially by God for each of his daughters. He had a peace knowing that Jim, Sam, and Mike would take good care of his girls and he bragged about them every chance he got. He was extremely proud of his family for what they have accomplished and will accomplish, and their love for others and compassion for mankind. Rogers’ dreams of life were happy, complete, and full.
Roger also leaves behind his oldest sister Carol Ann Dingman and husband Ken of Winter Garden, FL. As loving and supportive siblings, Carol and Roger were always there for each other. Their relationship was one in a million led by childhood rivalry and adventure, yet at the root, a deep bond based on mutual admiration, respect, and love. Also survived by his sister, Marie Guerra and husband Vincent. Even at a young age, Roger always considered it his duty to protect Marie, whom he loved dearly. Also surviving are nieces, great-nephews, and many cousins who Roger considered dear friends and a blessing. His best friend Lou Gimelli was always a source of encouragement and kindness and will forever be considered family. Joe and Elaine Demarse were family but also friends. Sporty, Roger’s pocket Beagle and other best friend, will miss their many walks in the woods and naps on the couch. Roger’s passing leaves a hole in the hearts of many.
Roger worked selflessly and tirelessly in the operation of two successful automobile dealerships, Skinner Sales in Herkimer, NY and Skinner & Damulis in Richfield Springs, NY. He had great admiration, love, and respect for all of his employees to whom he was always grateful for all their efforts and counted them as family. He also lovingly considered his customers a part of the family and made each of them feel special.
Roger was a graduate of Clarkson College of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Distribution. He also received an associate degree from Fulton Montgomery Community College. He loved his challenging occupation as plant manager at Niagara Mohawk Power Company but after 14 years, he knew it was time to return to the family business, Skinner & Damulis, in Richfield Springs. One year later, he opened a second dealership, Skinner Sales in Herkimer with two of his daughters. Roger proudly maintained the dealerships as a family business of un-parallel integrity. He received many appointments and awards over the years while in a demanding industry, all while balancing his faith and family. He proudly accepted the nomination of the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award. He proudly served the National Automobile Dealers Association as a board member for many years. Roger proudly sat on many other industry boards and committees throughout the many years as an automotive dealer.
Always putting community first and foremost, Roger was extremely active in civic affairs, especially the Rotary Club for nearly 40 years. Both his father Hiram Skinner and his father-in-law, Edward Kitts were lifelong members of the Rotary Club. Roger served as President and Assistant District Governor of Rotary and was always there to serve at a spaghetti dinner and stayed until every dish was washed. He was always active in all Rotary civic projects and events, but especially loved being the director of “Books for the World,” which sends books to third-world countries all over the world in large shipping containers that are repurposed for libraries and classrooms. Roger lived by the motto of the Rotary Club, “Service Over Self”.
Roger also loved belonging to The Genesis Group that shared his hope for the Mohawk Valley and the Utica NANO Center. He served on the board of directors at Folts Homes in Herkimer for many years. Roger was a previous trustee for the Village of Herkimer. He served as on the board of directors for the Herkimer County BOCES, Herkimer County Community College, and both the Herkimer County and Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. Roger was very active with the American Red Cross, serving on the board of directors and receiving their Great Heroes “Man of the Year” Award. He also considered it his civic duty to donate blood any chance he could and was very sad when his health would no longer allow him to donate.
Roger had a strong love of our country along with those who served to protect it, always supporting our troops past and present. It was a great honor of his to send many WWII veterans to visit Washington DC, and to see the beautiful memorial that was built in their honor.
Roger belonged to the Twitchell Creek Club, a hunting camp near Big Moose in the expansive Adirondack Mountains. He helped build the large log cabin from perfectly picked out trees over the span of seven summers. He loved camp and being the camp cook. It brought him much laughter and many lifelong friendships, especially Gregg and Toni Rudd. He counted himself blessed to hold them dear to his heart.
Roger was a dedicated and loyal man. He had a relationship with God that he shared with many people and he will surely be welcomed to Heaven hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Then, he may see his “Ma” and they will share maple walnut ice cream together just like old times.
Roger loved to read. He always had about four books started at different reading spots around the house including a book, “Who Will Cry When You Die.” The answer, We All Cried When You Died.
The family would like to express their sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Dan Enea from Mohawk Valley Funerals from Little Falls, NY. Thank you for your genuine friendship to Roger both personally and professionally with Rotary. You truly are essential during this difficult time of uncertainty.
Roger shared his love for reading with the world and was currently preparing pallets of Books for the World to be shipped overseas just a few days before his passing. Kindly consider a memorial contribution in his memory to “The Roger Skinner Books for the World Fund, c/o AmeriCU Bank, 326 E State St, Herkimer, NY 13350.
Roger J. Skinner was always looking to make the world and his corner of New York a better place.
In Roger’s own words, “It’s a beautiful day in the Mohawk Valley”.
Roger and his family's care has been placed in the trust of Mohawk Valley Funerals and Cremations, 7507 State Route 5 (corner of Bidelman Road), Little Falls, 315-508-5131. A memorial service will take place at the convenience of the Skinner family. There are no calling hours.