Robert Harrington Skiles, artist, teacher, traveler, raconteur and long-time resident of Big Sur, Calif., died peacefully in his sleep Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008, at the age of 93.
He was born Sept. 3, 1915 in Sunnyside. He attended Sunnyside public schools and matriculated to the University of Washington, majoring in visual and performing arts; upon graduation he went to Los Angeles for a career in performing arts.
Bob enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 as Corporal of Intelligence, he was assigned to coastal observation posts from Long Beach to the Mexican border. He attended Officers' Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga., was commissioned Captain and assigned to Army Intelligence, 36th Infantry Division. He served in North Africa and participated in the allied landing at Salerno where he was wounded; after nine months of recuperation, he was assigned duty for the remainder of World War II serving with the Army-sponsored Theatre Tour of Europe to entertain troops in the field and hospitals. He received the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He attended the American University in Biarritz.
After the war, Bob returned to Ojai, Calif., where he taught art history at Thatcher School and visual arts and crafts at Ojai Valley School. He was active with the Ojai Music Festival and had an opportunity to meet major music personalities of the day.
In 1950, Bob moved north to the Monterey Peninsula to work for the Cherry Foundation and was asked to teach arts and crafts at Carmel Unified School District. He worked in the Carmel District until his retirement. His students remember him as an outstanding teacher who opened a world of color, form and imagination. He lived in beautiful Big Sur for 50 years in a house he designed and built.
Bob used his skills in the performing arts to co-produce the renowned "Big Sur Potluck Revues." These original musical and theatrical productions are vividly remembered by people in Big Sur and central California who packed the Grange Hall to enjoy original wit and satire.
Bob painted throughout his life and found great pleasure and enjoyment in his artwork. He traveled widely, making trips to Japan and Southeast Asia and used his innate artistic knowledge to collect Japanese folk art; this collection was given to the Monterey Museum of Art. He gave his collection of Japanese furniture, books and art to the Clark Institute for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford, Calif.
Bob loved telling of his travels and of interesting people he met. He had a wry sense of humor, a quick wit and a great love of classical music and good jazz. He will be long remembered for charm, warmth and good conversation.
He is survived by his sister, Barbara Gene LaViolette of Seattle; and many relatives and friends who will miss him keenly.
Memorial donations may be made to Big Sur Health Center, Big Sur Library, Big Sur Land Trust, Monterey Museum of Art and Sunnyside Museum.