• December 19, 2014

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Juanell Byrd Skidmore

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Funeral services for Joan Juanell Byrd Skidmore will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Killeen. A private burial will follow the services. Grandsons and grandsons-in-law will serve as pallbearers.

Mrs. Skidmore died Feb. 25, 2013. She was born Feb. 10, 1934, in Plains to Lee Ollie and Bertha Hatchett Greenfield. At the time, the family lived on a Yoakum County ranch, where her father was a working cowboy.

When she was a young age, the family moved to Brownfield, where she attended public schools, graduating from Brownfield High School in 1951, where she played oboe in the high school band. It also was in Brownfield that she began piano lessons and became an accomplished pianist.

Her musical talent earned her a scholarship to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, where she began training to become a concert pianist. That plan was interrupted, however, when she met a dashing fellow student and track star, Roy Tom Byrd, whom she married Jan. 19, 1953.

Since Mr. Byrd was studying to become a teacher and coach, she switched her major to education, eventually leading to a 32½-year teaching career that included 31 years in Killeen, most of those teaching fifth grade at Clifton Park Elementary School. She received her bachelor of science degree from Howard Payne in January 1953 with a major in elementary education and a minor in music.

Prior to moving to Killeen in 1965, she taught in Gorman, Comanche and Sidney, exciting experiences in which she taught children of migrant workers and used her music ability to stage a musical production in the small, rural Sidney school.

In Killeen, she taught one year at Meadows Elementary School while Clifton Park Elementary was being built. She then joined the Clifton Park staff and remained there until she retired in 1995.

In 1970, tragedy struck when Roy Tom Byrd, who was principal of Rancier Junior High School in Killeen, drowned while on an outing at Lake Brownwood, where the family had a cabin. Mr. Byrd left not only a wife, but two young children, Tom Douglas Byrd and Barbara Stephanie Byrd.

She quickly mastered the task of being a single parent, even coaching her son’s Little League basketball team. She continued her studies, receiving a master of arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in August 1970.

On July 10, 1976, she married her next-door neighbor, Gerald D. Skidmore Sr., who also had been widowed two years before. She gained three more children, Gerald Skidmore Jr., Jonathan Skidmore and Martha Skidmore. Under her care, the family quickly melded into the “Byrd-Skidmore clan.”

Juanell received a number of awards, including the prestigious Outstanding Teaching of Humanities Award, given by the Texas Committee for the Humanities. She was the Killeen Council of PTA “Teacher of the Year” in 1987, Killeen Rotary Club “Teacher of the Month” in 1991, and Clifton Park’s “Employee of the Month.”

She was active in the Killeen and Texas Classroom Teachers associations and was a member of the Texas State Teachers Association, the Killeen Retired Teachers Association, the Vive Les Arts Society, serving on the board, the Killeen High School Band Boosters Club and Phi Delta Kappa national education honor society.

A member of the Longhorn Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association, she served as secretary and on various committees, receiving that organization’s “Woman of the Year” award in 1977-78.

She became a member of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in 1964, serving as a member of the choir and on the Altar Guild.

Preceding her in death were her husband, Roy Tom Byrd; her parents; a brother, L O. Greenfield Jr.; and a sister. Dorothy Phillips.

Survivors include her husband, Gerald D. Skidmore Sr. of Killeen; three sons, Gerald D. Skidmore Jr. and his wife, Linda, of Killeen; Jonathan B. Skidmore and his wife, Lisa, of Dallas, and Dr. Tom Byrd and his wife, Sue, of Brownwood; two daughters, Martha Skidmore Heckathorn and her husband, Jeff, of Harker Heights and Stephanie Byrd-Lee and her husband, Byron, of New Orleans, La.; 14 grandchildren, Christy Skidmore Galloway and her husband, Travis, of Fort Belvoir, Va., Elizabeth Skidmore Chapman and her husband, Pete, of Dallas, James B. Skidmore and his wife, McKenzie, of Dallas, Matthew Skidmore of Dallas, Jonathan A. Skidmore of Dallas, Dr. Tom Byrd and his wife, Sue, of Brownwood, Roy Tom Byrd and his wife, Lindsay, of San Antonio, Shelby Byrd of Brownwood, Sara Byrd of Brownwood, Molly Heckathorn of Harker Heights, Samantha Heckathorn of Harker Heights, Lauren Heckathorn of Harker Heights, Vivian Lee of New Orleans, La., Carolyn Lee of New Orleans, La., Byron R.M. Lee of New Orleans, La.; and one great-granddaughter, Lily Jane Galloway of Fort Belvoir, Va..

Memorials may be made to the Disabled American Veterans at 3725 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring, KY 41076.

Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home in Killeen. Offer condolences at www.crawfordbowersfuneralhome.com.

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