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Ilene Mae Agnes Skidmore
Ilene Mae Agnes Skidmore went to be with the Lord on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, at the blessed age of 91 years, 6 months, and 13 days. Ilene was born on May 11, 1922, in Marion, Texas, to Edwin Fred Kircher, a farmer, and Carolyn “Carrie” Thekla Mergele Kircher, both German descendants that came from West Prussia, migrated from the Gulf and settled in the Marion and New Braunfels areas. As a child, Ilene helped her mother decorate the Christmas tree with popcorn and candles, a German tradition. She loved playing with a bandy hen and dressed it in doll clothes her mother made. When she was through with it, she would put the hen back outside on its nest so it could lay eggs.
Ilene’s family moved to San Antonio when she was 9 and she attended fourth grade at St. Gerard’s. Her father started work with Frederick Refrigeration, where he worked until his death. After high school, Ilene worked at Kress’s in downtown San Antonio, where she met and worked with her future sister-in-law, Stella Gantz.
Because Ilene loved to dance, she accompanied her parents to Gruene Hall on Saturday nights at age 16, where she met Cooper Skidmore. Cooper was a soldier assigned to the 4th Army 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Sam Houston. He spotted Ilene, a blond beauty with large green eyes and a “Julia Roberts” smile and told his Army buddy he was going to ask her to dance. His friend responded that he would have to first go through that big German man over there as he pointed to Ilene’s father. So, unafraid, Cooper did just that! Ilene and Cooper dated for three years before they were married. Their “dance” lasted 64 years until Cooper predeceased Ilene in 2006. They were married on Dec. 25, 1941, and lived outside the gates of Fort Sam Houston.
Ilene then followed Cooper to Camp McCoy, Wisc., until he received orders for overseas where he entered combat and survived the Normandy Invasion at Omaha Beach during World War II. Ilene drove back to San Antonio alone, where she gave birth in 1944 to their first son, Ben, and waited for Cooper to return from the war. Stella also gave birth to a son, and lived with Ilene and her parents until Vernon returned.
Life with Cooper proved to be one of excitement and new endeavors. With three young children, Ben, Priscilla, and Wes, Ilene and Cooper lived five years overseas, first in Panama and then in Caracas, Venezuela, from 1952 to 1957. Cooper was assigned to attaché duty for the U.S. Embassies. During those years, Ilene was a Red Cross volunteer, scout leader for a Brownie troop, CCD church leader for her children, and learned the etiquette needed to entertain the ambassador’s wife in her home. Fearless, she took on the challenges of living in foreign countries and caring for her family.
Upon returning to the United States, Ilene worked as a church secretary for 17 years from 1960-76, for the Archdiocese of San Antonio for the parishes of St. Margaret Mary, Holy Name, and St. Matthew. She served also as a PTA president at St. Margaret Mary where her children attended school. Then changing careers, Ilene worked 11 years as a comptroller for Hussmann Refrigeration Corporation before retiring at age 63.
Ilene’s greatest enjoyment was celebrating holidays and birthdays with her husband, children, grandchildren, and friends. She loved cooking and baking and her family always looked forward to her birthday specialty cakes and her Nannie’s famous Christmas cookies. Christmas Eve at Ilene’s was the event of the year with shiny Christmas decorations, presents stacked to the ceiling, and tables full of goodies. Ilene, dubbed Nannie, who later became known as Great Nannie, was the glue that held the family together. Love expounded from her in all she did, and her family loved her dearly.
As a church secretary, Ilene had many opportunities in helping people with problems. She enjoyed volunteering at church festivals and decorating the church for Christmas. She also was known for her high soprano voice in the church choir. After retirement, Ilene also did some Red Cross volunteering at BAMC, she and Cooper traveled to Poland, sailed on a Mississippi cruise, and visited friends in Florida and other states.
Ilene had a personable quality about her in which people, especially babies and children, would gravitate toward her. She was a great listener and made others feel her genuine interest in them. Ilene was asked to enter a contest at the assisted living where she lived her final years. She won over nine other residents and four assisted living homes and carried the title of Ms. Brookdale of 2007 at age 85.
Ilene was preceded in death by her older brother, Vernon, whom she loved dearly. Vernon learned English and taught Ilene to speak it upon starting school since the Kircher family spoke German as their main language. He was very protective of his little sister.
Ilene is survived by her three children, Ben Skidmore, Priscilla Kincaid and husband Roger, and Wes Skidmore; five grandchildren, Kris Franckowiak and husband Robert “Bob” Ploucher, Kevin Kincaid and wife Crystal, Kim Frye and husband David, Kelby Skidmore, and Kenneth Skidmore; and five great- grandchildren, Kyle, Kole, and Kailyn Kincaid, and Zachary and Mallory Franckowiak; and numerous Mergele and Kircher cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Visitation was held on Friday, Nov. 29, from 6-8 p.m. in the Roy Akers Funeral Chapel in San Antonio.
A funeral was held on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Holy Name Catholic Church in San Antonio.
Interment followed in the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Antonio.
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