Hance “Boyd” Skillin, Class of 1941

September 19, 2003
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #224 (Have you submitted yours?)Boyd Skillin was born in Anaheim in 1923. When he was 3 years old the family moved to Santa Paula, where his father, Hance Skillin Sr., owned and operated a mortuary in what is now called the Santa Paula Inn near 8th and Main Streets. Hance also owned a mortuary on Central Avenue in Fillmore.One of Boyd’s earliest memories was the flood waters from the Saint Francis Dam surging through the Santa Clara River Valley. Boyd and his mother, Rose Jorgenson Skillin, hurried up to the hills, while Dad stayed behind to help the other men in Santa Paula with rescue.In 1928 Boyd and Rose were taken to Big Sister’s Hospital in Ventura, diagnosed with flu. Years later it was determined they had been victims of polio. His mother Rose died, and the very sick child Boyd remained in the hospital for several weeks. In 1930 Hance remarried, taking Helen Field Webster as his wife and bringing into the family Marie Webster (’36).Stories were told about the cops and robbers games played through the alleys of Santa Paula by Boyd and his pals, Gerald Crotty (’41), Tokio Chida (’41), Dick Cline (’40) and John Cline (’37), “Buddy” Greist (’41), Stan Hill (’41), and others, all so important in his life at that time. And the bicycle rides – at times – to the home of Virginia MacMurray (’41) in the country. How well Boyd remembered Freeman Eakin and Ellen Bailard and their importance in his life with their kindness, long conversations and understanding, and how devastating it was when he returned home after World War II to find they had both died.In 1933, during the Depression years, the present Skillin Mortuary was completed at 8th and Santa Paula Streets, where Boyd spent his growing up days.At SPUHS Boyd served on the Student Council. After graduation he attended Occidental College, until enlisting in the Navy in April 1943. He attended electronics school on Treasure Island in San Francisco, and in Pennsylvania. Boyd saw duty in the Atlantic Fleet and the South Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Rudderow before his discharge as a Radio Technician First Class in March 1946.
Using his GI Bill, Boyd attended Redlands University and became a teacher. He later received his master’s degree from USC.Boyd married Edith Murray of Ventura in 1948, and they raised a family of three sons, Rob, Randy and Roger. They live in Fresno, where he taught math and science at the Fresno middle school.Boyd was active in Rotary, the Masonic Lodge, and Fresno Ham Radio Club. He continued his love of sailing, as he did in his youth as a member of Sea Scouts. Electronics has been a lifelong hobby.Today, at 80 years of age, Boyd’s life has greatly changed. His family has gathered around to help guide him through the difficulty of vascular dementia, partly stemming from the polio of so many years before.

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