House of Representatives honors former Rep. Mary Skinner

Yakima lawmaker described as ‘a true public servant’

Described as a person with “a true servant’s heart” who “always put the interests of others above her own,” former state Rep. Mary Skinner was honored today in a resolution by the House of Representatives for her dedicated service to the state of Washington.

House Resolution 4605 was introduced by 14th District Reps. Norm Johnson and Charles Ross.

“Mary Skinner has been an important part of the Yakima area for many, many years. Her contributions to our community are countless, from the Selah Overpass, the Valley Mall Boulevard extension, Millennium Arts Plaza, Capitol Theatre restoration, downtown Yakima redevelopment, and the Yakima Valley College higher education center, her fingerprints are all over these projects,” said Johnson, R-Yakima.

Former Rep. Mary Skinner “Besides serving as a volunteer in more than 18 organizations, an impassioned supporter of the arts, and as a leader in the community, Mary was responsible for passage of double fines in school zones, Anton’s child safety restraint law, legislation to assist senior citizens, creation of a state poet laureate, and extension of insurance coverage for colon cancer screening. Her service to our community and to the state of Washington is immeasurable,” added Johnson.

“It was an honor serving with Mary,” said Ross, R-Naches. “As a freshman, it was a joy to learn from her and see how she treated our constituents. Mary knew how to truly listen and connect with people. She is a fine public servant and her legislative family definitely misses her smile and presence.”

Skinner represented the 14th District in the Washington House of Representatives from January 1995 to January 2009. She was named vice-chair of the House Republican Caucus in January 2005.

In March 2006, Skinner was diagnosed with colon cancer. After extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments, she announced in January 2007 that her cancer was in remission.

After the health of Dr. Harlow “Hal” Skinner began to deteriorate last spring, Mary Skinner decided not to run for an eighth term. She made the announcement May 14, saying, “the season has come for me to spend more quality time with my husband, Hal, and my family here in Yakima.”

Dr. Skinner died Saturday morning at his home.

“Our heart goes out to Mary and her family. I know how close she and Hal were, and we share in the loss of her husband, and extend our deep condolences to Mary and her family,” said Johnson. “It is fitting at this time to give Mary Skinner the recognition she and Doctor Skinner so richly deserve for their service to the state of Washington.”

“The Yakima Valley, and really Washington state, benefited immensely from the Skinners, from education to medical care and the arts,” added Ross. “I’m glad Mary was able to spend quality time with Hal before he passed away as he was truly the love of her life.”

The resolution was passed unanimously by the House.

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Editor’s note: A transcript of the resolution is included below.


HOUSE RESOLUTION 4605 , by Representative Johnson, Ross, et al

WHEREAS, It is the policy of the Washington State Legislature to recognize excellence in all fields of endeavor; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner has exhibited true excellence throughout her personal, professional, and public life; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner has exhibited the highest levels of excellence during her tenure as State Representative for the citizens of the 14th Legislative District, comprised of a portion of Yakima County and including the cities of Yakima, Naches, Tieton, Gleed, Selah, Union Gap, Ahtanum, Tampico, and other wonderful communities throughout Yakima County; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner was born in Los Angeles, California, but at the tender age of three months came with her parents to Wapato, Washington; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner was raised in the Yakima, Washington area as the daughter of migrant workers, and is the great niece of the late president of Mexico, Venustiano Carranza; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner’s first language was Spanish and she learned English in the public schools and used her bilingual abilities to help people throughout the Yakima Valley; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner’s parents taught her the importance of public service, which she demonstrated with earnest devotion throughout her life; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner attended Yakima Public Schools and graduated from Davis High School in Yakima, attended Yakima Valley Community College and graduated from Central Washington University with a B.A. in education; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner and her husband, of 40 years, Dr. Harlow “Hal” Skinner, whom she loved with undying affection, lived in Walla Walla and Thurston counties, but resided the majority of their lives in Yakima – a community dearly loved by Mary; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner has been employed as a nurses’ aide and later taught junior high school in the Yakima School District; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner has served as a volunteer in many community groups and activities, including the Allied Arts Council of Yakima Valley, the American Association of University Women (past branch president), Yakima Junior League, the League of Women Voters, and PEO; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner served in many community leadership positions, including director and co-founder of the Washington State Medical Association Auxiliary Foundation, president of the Washington State Medical Association Auxiliary, member of the Yakima Valley Community College Board, Yakima Valley Community College Foundation Board, Heritage College Board, the St. Elizabeth Hospital (Providence Yakima Medical Center/Yakima Regional Medical Center) Community Board, past vice president of the Yakima Schools Foundation, co-founder of Olympia Junior League, member of the Capitol Theatre Board and Capitol Furnishings Preservation Committee, founding member of the Yakima County Health Care Coalition, along with volunteer roles in at least 18 organizations; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner was appointed as a 3rd Congressional District member to the Washington State Board of Education; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner served for many years as a board member of the Washington Arts Commission and was an impassioned supporter of the arts; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner served as State Representative from the 14th Legislative District from January 1995 to January 2009, as a Ranking Member of the House Economic Development, Housing and Trade Committee, a member of the House Transportation Committee, the House Higher Education Committee, and the House Health Care Committee, and as a member of the National Conference of State Government’s Executive Committee, and past chair of the Council of State Governments WEST Committee on Aging, the co-chair of the Council of State Governments Health Capacity Task Force, Council of State Governments’ 2004 Henry Toll Fellowship Leader, and as vice chair of the Washington House Republican Caucus from January 2005 to January 2009; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner during her seven terms in elected office was responsible for the passage of: double fines in school zones, Anton’s Law – the most comprehensive child passenger safety restraint law in the nation, numerous laws to assist senior citizens and long-term care, the creation of a state poet laureate, and extension of insurance coverage for colon cancer screening; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner helped to secure many important projects for the 14th District, including the Millennium Arts Plaza in downtown Yakima, funding for the Selah Overpass and Valley Mall Boulevard extension, preservation of the historic Capitol Theatre, downtown Yakima redevelopment, and assisted in the creation of a Yakima Valley Community College higher education center; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner is respected for her sincerity, her honesty, her kindness, and her friendship; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner has a true servant’s heart and always put the interests of others above those of her own; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner has a deep and abiding faith in God and loves to share her faith with anyone who will listen; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner never fails to give a word of hope and encouragement to those who are discouraged or hurting; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner through all her health challenges never complains but rather expresses the joys she finds in life and in her faith; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner is deeply admired for her dedicated and sacrificial service to this institution, her family, friends and colleagues, her community, her constituents, and citizens throughout this state; and

WHEREAS, Mary Skinner is the epitome of a well-rounded and dedicated wife, step-mother, sister to Marti and Gloria, community leader, public official, and friend;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the state of Washington honor Mary Skinner for her years of dedicated service, her personal and professional integrity, and her faithfulness to the principles and ideals that she worked so diligently for; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be immediately transmitted by the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives to Mary Skinner.

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For more information, contact: John Sattgast, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7257


Washington State House Republican Communications