Grand Marshal Family Has Deep Roots in Alma
The Skinner family gives the term “true Scot” a whole new meaning. A member of the family has attended Alma College at some point during every decade since the 1930s.
Twenty-three family members have graduated from Alma College. The Skinner family was selected as the grand marshal of the 2012 homecoming parade on Oct. 6 as a salute to their Alma College legacy.
Their legacy began when Charles Skinner ’39 left Cornell University in New York for Alma due to some encouragement from a local Presbyterian minister. While on campus, he met and fell in love with Alice Bronson Skinner ’38.
After graduation, the two began to build their lives together, but before they knew it, they were back in Alma. Charles, who had been working at Dow Chemical in Midland, accepted a position in 1946 to teach chemistry at the College, where he would remain until his retirement in 1978.
The couple’s four children, Charles (Ted) Skinner ’63, Rich Skinner ’66, Mary Skinner Sexton ’68 and John Skinner ’72, attended Alma. Ted, Rich and Mary married Alma classmates, and Ted, Mary and John all sent children to Alma. The rest, as it goes, is history.
“Familiarity has something to do with our long history with Alma,” says Mary. “The third generation of six grandchildren had been on campus from time to time all their lives, so that familiarity helped them decide to pursue an education at Alma. They also were given opportunities to go anywhere they wanted, but you can do a lot of things at Alma that you can’t do at a bigger school.”
Mary Skinner Sexton '68 and Ron Sexton '68
Thanks, in part, to their Alma education, the Skinner family found professional success: Before retirement, Mary spent 25 years as an elementary teacher, and Ted was with Dow Corning for 31 years. John is the radiology program director at Mid-Michigan Community College. Rich passed away in 2011 but served in full-time ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ for nearly 40 years.
“A small campus doesn’t mean you can’t do big things,” says Mary. “Alma is a great starting point in life. You gain the necessary skills and confidence to succeed. When you think of all the people who have passed through this campus, people who have done great things, you remember that this small campus has impacted the world in a big way.”
Mary, who describes herself as “a real supporter of the liberal arts,” contributes this success to the environment at Alma. The College surrounded the family with good people and memorable professors, says Sherry Parker Skinner ’63, who is married to Ted.
“You couldn’t fake your way through a small class,” she says. “Your professors would know that day if you didn’t understand what you were studying. You became familiar with them, and they with you. You would see them in the grocery store. They were accessible day and night.”
“Sherry and I still have friends, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers from Alma, and I don’t think there’s a month goes by where we don’t have contact with one of them,” Ted agrees.
By all observations, Mary says the environment on campus hasn’t changed much. When her husband, Ron ‘68, who is a member of the Board of Trustees, taught finance classes at Alma recently, he found himself impressed with Alma students.
“He couldn’t believe how prepared Alma students were,” she says. “He could get creative with the class because they were always on top of things, and he really appreciated that.”
But Charles wouldn’t be surprised. Mary says whenever he got the chance, he raved about Alma. He and Alice both would be proud of their legacy and where it stands today: Nick Goodman, a member of the Skinner family tree, will graduate from Alma in 2015.
Posted: Mon, October 1st, 2012 at 7:56AM