By JAMIE VERWYS
The last words I would hear from M. Scot Skinner came to me in an email during my stay in the hospital. He wrote to say he hoped I was mending after my bike mishap.
Though Scot and I only got to interact briefly, it’s clear his kindness always stuck out to people. The man behind the great smile had left a life-long mark on his students, friends, family and the journalism community of Tucson.
Skinner passed away at 11 p.m. on April 3 after a three-week battle against a bacterial infection. While the 54-year-old was known for his work as a journalist with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Weekly, Pima is deeply feeling the loss of a beloved writing instructor.
As I write this memorial to a man described by so many who knew him as incredibly kind, I know I am surrounded by student reporters who feel formed and inspired by Skinner’s mentorship. Several Aztec Press reporters learned the journalism basics from him in 101, worked with him on Sandscript and learned about his life.
Emery Nicoletti, a reporter in spring 2015, took Skinner’s media class because of his legacy and work at the Daily Star.
“He made the class an enjoyable place to be. Every second of it,” he said. “He was such a nice patient person.”
First semester reporter S. Paul Bryan reminisced about a class Skinner taught this semester, with so many different skill levels a curriculum was challenging.
“That class is almost impossible to teach,” he said. “But no one could have taught it better than Scot. This couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
His Facebook now serves as a collage of memories, friendships and goodbyes from the many moved by Skinner.
The Daily Star, Weekly and several other publications shared the news and paid their respects. Some of the words used to describe him are lovely, loyal, giving, a wonderful conversationalist and hip.
Many students and colleagues were inspired by the instructor during their budding writing careers.
Former Aztec Press reporter Caleb Foster reached out to share that Skinner was the first person to get him interested in Journalism.
Current reporter Eddie Celaya shares the sentiment.
“He was instrumental in my decision to join the Aztec Press,” he said. “With his encouragement, I have found I want to pursue journalism as a career, or something related. I have a voice and I really want that to be heard. Scot was the first person who really saw that.”
The love surrounding Skinner is overwhelmingly clear on the GoFundMe campaign started for his medical expenses on March 24. The goal to earn $5000 in donations was quickly surpassed, with the campaign earning $10,550.
Memorial services for Skinner will take place April 9 at Christ Presbyterian Church, 6565 E Broadway Blvd., at 10 a.m. Those wishing to support Skinner’s family may donate to the GoFundMe campaign, gofundme.com/cfvtndwk.
I wish I would have had the chance to work and learn with Scot. So many people in the community and college were enriched in their time knowing him. As a journalist, I’m thankful because he played a really important role for some talented current and student reporters.
We dedicate this issue to M. Scot Skinner and invite faculty and students to share their stories with us on the online edition.