Early life: I was born in a garage apartment in Lakehurst, N.J. on January 22, 1928, saw the Hindenburg explode in 1937(see Remembering the Hindenburg)(I attended a Memorial Service at the crash site on May 6, 2007 sponsored by the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society), and attended school in Toms River, N.J., graduating in 1946. My senior year I passed the "Eddy Test" which qualified me to attend the U.S. Navy's Radar School in Corpus Christi, TX and Memphis, TN. Oh, yes, before school I was a "Boot" at Great Lakes NTC, near Chicago, where I learned to scrub wood floors with a steel wool pad and wash my clothes in a bucket! I taught in the Radar School the last 1/2 year of my hitch. Then I married my high school sweetheart, Anne, during Freshman Week, 1948, at Lehigh Univ., Bethlehem, PA. Our first child, Thomas, arrived at the end of my Junior year. I graduated in 1952 with a BS with High Honors in Engineering Physics, Phi Beta Kappa, then from the Univ. of Rochester (NY) in 1954 with an MS in Physics. Gregory was born right after I started work at Westinghouse in 1954 when we lived in Arbutus, across the street from our current abode. Soon after we moved to Linthicum in 1957 we had our daughter, Karen.
Sad note about Lakehurst: After 88 years as a U.S. Navy base, starting in June 1921, on October 1, 2009, Navy Lakehurst combined with McGuire AFB and Ft. Dix to form Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst under command of U.S. Air Force Colonel Gina Grosso of the 87th Airbase Wing. She was recently promoted to Brig. Gen. and has been replaced.
Career: I worked as a Radar System Engineer at Westinghouse (originally Air Arm Division) in Baltimore (now a part of Northrop Grumman) for 38 1/2 years, retiring in 1993. I worked on developing advanced radars for the F-4 fighter, the BOMARC missile and the Airborne Warning and Control System, AWACS, all of which use a technique called Pulse Dopper to separate the target from ground clutter. (a Google search for AWACS gets almost 1.8 million hits) In October, 1972 Westinghouse won a flyoff competition against our arch-enemy, Hughes, to build the radar. Besides the USAF, AWACS are in service with NATO, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Australia has a spin-off version that is electronically scanned in azimuth. To quote the late Drew Middleton, former military analyst for The New York Times: "They used to send in the Marines-now they send AWACS." In 1980 I took an Icelandic Odyssey aboard an Air Force AWACS to check out an improvement. The picture was taken at Tinker AFB, Norman, OK, AWACS home base. On August 30, 1983 an AWACS visited Westinghouse to celebrate the delivery of the 50th AWACS. Left to right: Gus Cole, me, and Tom Fell, Gus and Tom were key AWACS contributors, both deceased. In 1986 I was honored to be listed in "Who's Who in America." In 1995 Bob Cowdery, AWACS Program Manager for many years, and I were honored with the IEEE Pioneer Award "For contributions in the leadership and development of the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)" For the Award Bob and I wrote a history of the AWACS Radar, published in the IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems. (Pictures recently changed to color) In 2003 I was awarded the IEEE Dennis J. Picard Medal for radar technologies and applications. I was invited to give a historical paper on Westinghouse Baltimore at the June, 2011 International Microwave Symposium in downtown Baltimore. You can read the paper here. You can also read a 2010 interview by the IEEE about my carreer track here. A short slide show "The AWACS Story" is based on the "history.." paper with added current information about deployments, users and other non-US AWACS.
Recently a "Westinghouse Song" came to light. It was written by Schulter Morgan, a Westinghouse employee, for a contest sponsored by the company in 1938. I sang this song at a gathering of Westinghouse retirees at Charlestown, accompanied by Evelyn Chesnutt, director of the Charlestown mixed chorus, The Harmonizers, on the piano.
Family: Our daughter, Karen, now lives in our old house in Linthicum, MD with computer-guru husband and our two
grandchildren. We also have two step-grandchildren and six step-great
grandchildren in New York state. We lost our younger son, Greg, in a traffic accident
on Valentine's Day, 2000. Our older son, Thomas, lives near the site of the Baltimore Orioles original home, Memorial Stadium,
in Baltimore. It was replaced by two stadia(?) in downtown Baltimore and was
razed a few years ago to make room for a senior citizens' home.
Linthicum Centennial: 1908 was the year that the Linthicum brothers started to turn their farmland into a bedroom community for Baltimore and the surrounding area. In 2007 a bunch of us Linthicumites formed a committee to formulate events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this event. You can find out what went on by clicking on the header above. As a bonus, by clicking on "Sock Hop Photo Album" you can see yours truly (the guy with a white beard), wife Anne (white shirt) and granddaughter Sarah (green top) dancing the night away at the first event of the Centennial - a traditional Sock Hop.
The Performing Arts Association of Linthicum: PAAL is a subscription organization that puts on mostly musical performances at the newly renovated Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, MD. In the 2013-2014 season (32nd) PAAL will have five subscription concerts and a free concert by the U.S. Navy Band of Washington, DC. I was treasurer for 23 years and am currently the webmaster.
Genealogy: In retirement I finally have some time to delve into my family's ancestry. I am a 7th great grandson of Thomas Skillman, who came to America in 1664 with the Duke of York's expedition, which forced the Dutch to surrender New Amsterdam to the English who promptly renamed it New York. (Not a shot was fired!) He was rewarded with land in New York, married and raised a family. Virtually all Skillman's in America (except descendants of slaves who took their master's surname) are descended from Thomas. In 1906-08, my 4th cousin, three times removed, William Jones Skillman (1835-1914), published the descendants of Thomas in a genealogy quarterly. I have continued his work with the aid of many people who have sent me their family information. You can find out more at my Skillman Genealogy Site where over 12,000 descendants of Thomas are listed, including 5655 Skillmans.
Anne: She was born in Paul Kimball Hospital in Lakewood, N.J. and lived in Beachwood and Toms River, N.J. We both were schooled in Toms River Grade and High School, meeting when we were in grade school. We both sang in the Junior Choir in the Methodist Church. She studied to be a Medical Technician at the Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia while I was in the Navy. After our marriage she worked for a doctor in Allentown, PA until our first son was born, delivered by the same doc. After the kids were all in school, Anne started writing the Linthicum news for the Maryland Gazette(America's oldest newspaper - founded 1727). After several years the paper asked her to come to work at the office. She wrote on many topics such as funerals, weddings, ship launchings, etc. Then, in 1970 they convinced her to write a weekly column. When she retired in 1994 she had written 1180 columns titled Conversations with Anne Skillman. I have converted some of them to electronic format. Her first year's columns can be viewed by clicking here. You may need to download the free Adobe Reader from www.adobe.com to read the PDF file. Or, a smaller, faster-loading reader, Foxit Reader, is my first choice.
Contact Bill Skillman
Contact Anne Skillman
You can also befriend me on FaceBook where I'm known as William Alfred Skillman
Updated: April 23, 2013