Home Page of
William (Bill) Alfred Skillman
IEEE Life Fellow
6825 Campfield Rd., Apt 11C-2
Gwynn Oak, MD, 21207-4595
March 6, 2020
 

Background:  I was born in a garage apartment in Lakehurst, N.J. on January 22, 1928 to Wilbur and Greta Ekman Skillman, who met at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst. About 1934 we moved to nearby Toms River where I attended school from 1st to 12th grade. In 1936 we watched the Hindenburg land on its first transatlantic trip to Lakehurst. We were treated to a tour of the ship. In October we stood underneath the ship before it's departure for Germany for the last trip of the season. Then, the next year, 1937, we stood near the Administration Bldg., where Dad worked, and watched in horror as the ship blew up. (see Remembering the Hindenburg.) After graduating from high school in 1946 I passed the "Eddy Test" which qualified me to attend the U.S. Navy's Radar School in Corpus Christi, TX and Memphis, TN. After attending the Navy Electronic School for 1.5 years and teaching at the school the last 6 months, I enrolled at
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. 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! Freshman Week I married my high school sweetheart, Anne Cavender. 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. I began working at Westinghouse on Radar and soon we had Gregory when we lived in Arbutus, MD.  Soon after we moved to Linthicum, MD in 1957 we had our daughter, Karen. After her marriage to Richard Brash, we welcomed Granddaughter Sarah. She married Sean Leake on June 9, 2017 and now lives in Laurel, MD.   She is studying American Sign Language at Gaudette in D.C. Next was grandson Eli, born Nov. 19 now graduated from High School. Richard's earlier daughter, Catherine, lives in Georgia with our six step-grandchildren. His son, James, lives with his wife, Jessica, and their 3 year-old son, Logan, in Wisconsin.

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.

Sadly, we lost Gregory in an automoble accident on Valentine's Day, 2000. He is survived by Patsi, his wife of 22 years.
 
In 2010 Anne and I moved to Charlestown Retirement Community. We enjoyed life there until Anne came down with dementia,  which ultimately led to her demise in March 2017. In May 2019 I married an old friend, Susie List, who I had met about 50 years previously when I worked with her late husband, Bill List at Westinghouse. Son-in-Law Richard officiated for the ceremony at the Chapel in
The Augsburg (Lutheran) Retirement Village in Gwynn Oak, MD where Susie lived. Since then I moved in with her.

Late 2011 Anne and I decided to gift our house to our daughter. After a frantic several months her family moved in the week before Christmas. She loves the house since she grew up there.  Recently her family moved to a Parsonage of the Glen Burnie Church of the Nazarene where her husband, Richard Brash, is now the Pastor.

Anne Skillman news from way back! In early 1975 Anne was cranking out a Conversations column weekly for the Maryland Gazette. She found out that Ocean City, New Jersey (NOT MD!) would have a ceremony in March to forecast the upcoming weather in that area by consulting the shadow of a Hermit Crab, Martin Zambisi Mollusk. ( Just like Punxsutawney Phil, famous groundhog) As a result she wrote three humerous columns about the event, including as the third one an account of Martin's marriage to Mollie. You can read these columns here.  Martin's weather prediction ceremony has been held every year since then, the 46th celebration will be held in May, 2020.  News  here.  Sadly, Anne and I never made it to the ceremony, maybe Susie and I will attend this year. It was all the idea of the O.C. Public Relations Director, Mark Soifer who retired in 2016.
See more about Anne at the bottom of this page.


Charlestown:

     I
n 2011 I joined the Harmonizers, a mixed chorus of about 45 residents of Charlestown that presents Spring and Holiday concerts. When the Publicity charirman died I "volunteered" to replace him. For each concert I created a flyer for display on our many bulletin boards and restaurants, small cards for display on tables in casual restaurants, the cover of the concert program and had the programs printed. I also created and maintained their website. After my move to Augsburg I will only sing with the group. Here is the website for the Harmonizers.
   
       

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 Doppler 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 the late 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)"  Bob's Acceptance speech has a lot of history, too. 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 Baltimore. You can read the paper here. You can also read a 2010 interview by the IEEE about my career 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. A longer version, AWACHIST-ELLIC.pdf was created for an ELLIC presentation at Charlestown.

In 2012 a "Westinghouse Song" came to light. Music and lyrics are by Schulter Morgan (1907-1979), a Westinghouse employee, for a contest sponsored by the company in 1938. In February, 2012, I sang this song at a Social of Westinghouse retirees at Charlestown, accompanied by Evelyn Chesnutt, director of the Charlestown mixed chorus, The Harmonizers. At the February 2014 Social the song was sung by Bethany Stiles, mezzo soprano, Grand Niece of Naomi McAfee, a Charlestown Resident and Westinghouse retiree, also accompanied by Evelyn. She also sang three songs from Broadway shows. See and hear her here. 

 Family: Our daughter, Karen, now lives in Glen Burnie with computer-guru husband, Richard and my grandson, Eli. They have all performed missionary work in several countries for the Church of the Nazarene. 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 and the Colts 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. Unfortunately, the web site with pictures of these events has been taken down.

The Maryland Concert Series: formerly know as The Performing Arts Association of Linthicum or  PAAL is a subscription organization that puts on mostly musical performances at the North County High School in Ferndale, MD. In the 2019-2020 season (357h) PAAL presents four subscription concerts and a free concert by the U.S. Army Field Band.  Plus additional concerts in cooperation with the Anne Arundel Concert Association in Severna Park and the South County Concert Association in Harwood. I was treasurer for 23 years and also the PAAL webmaster for several years.

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 almost 16,000 descendants of Thomas are listed, including 6260 Skillmans. 

Anne 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. We became engaged when I put the ring on her finger in Rittenhouse Square in Nov., 1947. 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 the editor 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.

Anne died of Cerebral Vascular Disease on March 19, 2017 at Charlestown in the skilled nursing facility. A Celebration of her life was held at Charlestown on March 29 in the Auditorium. Bill gave a slide show Celebrating the Life of Anne Skillman (Bill's Girl). Over 200 people attended from Linthicum, the Woman's Club, Westinghouse and Charlestown. Son-in-law, Richard Brash, prepared a passout for the Celebration. It contains many pictures, Anne's obituary that appeared in the Baltimore Sun and the Maryland Gazette, an article by a former co-worker, Kathy Shatt, comments by friends and the contents of the program passed out at the Celebration.

Contact Bill Skillman

You can also befriend me on FaceBook where I'm known as William Alfred Skillman (Not Bill Skillman, that's probably a cousin)

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