Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mary Elizabeth Bond Skaggs, 1911-2009

My mother died this morning, age 98, after a long and productive life. My brother, Sam, and I will miss her, but as Christians, with confidence born of the Hope she possessed.
Mary Elizabeth Bond Skaggs, age 98, died peacefully on December 19, 2009 of natural causes at Milton Senior Living in Milton, Wisconsin. She was born August 3, 1911 to Charles Austin and Maud Virginia (Hefner) Bond on Canoe Run near Roanoke, West Virginia. She was the fifth of eight children - Beatrice Mora, Walter Clarence, John Stanley, Luther Harold, Mary Elizabeth, Richard William, Charles Hefner, and Robert Levi, each of whom preceded her in death.

She lived on her grandfather’s farm near Roanoke until she was eight when the family moved to Salem, West Virginia, so the older children could attend high school. Mary was baptized by Pastor George B. Shaw and became a member of the Salem Seventh Day Baptist Church when she was twelve. After high school, she entered Salem College, majoring in physical education, graduating in 1934. In 1935 she became a physical education teacher at Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport, West Virginia, and taught there until the end of the spring semester in 1942. Mary’s younger brother, Charles, married Margaret Skaggs and, subsequently, Mary became acquainted with Margaret’s older brother, Leland Skaggs, then living in New York City where he taught mathematics at CCNY. Because of the uncertainties resulting from the beginning of World War II, Leland and Mary decided to marry during Easter weekend. They were married on April 6, 1942, the Monday after Easter, with Leland’s father, Rev. James L. Skaggs, performing the ceremony, Charles Bond as best man, and Margaret Skaggs Bond attending Mary.

After the war, most of which was spent in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Leland served in the Army teaching classes in radio for the Signal Corps, Leland was persuaded to return Milton, Wisconsin, and to Milton College, his alma mater, as a math teacher and, eventually, as Registrar. In 1956, Mary was employed by the college to teach women’s physical education. Later she also served as Dean of Women. The family’s life – there were now also two sons – centered around the activities at the college and the Milton Seventh Day Baptist Church. Mary organized and hosted social events for students and faculty, receptions, open houses, church Turkey Suppers, and was never happier than when she was doing so. With a sister-in-law, she took a class in cake decorating, and thereafter baked and decorated cakes for wedding receptions, anniversaries and other celebrations.

Mary retired from teaching in 1973. She and Leland continued to live in a house across from the Milton College campus until the end of 2002 when they moved to Milton Senior Living. Leland died there on Christmas morning, 2003. Mary is survived by her sons, James Austin Skaggs of Madison, Wisconsin, and Samuel Bond Skaggs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and numerous nephews and nieces.

The funeral will be on Wednesday, December 23 at the Milton, Wisconsin, Seventh Day Baptist Church, with burial in the Milton Cemetery.