Ethel Marie Skiles passed away peacefully in her sleep August 31, 2017, at the Community Nursing Home of Anaconda, where she had been a resident the last few years. She was 89 years old and was married for 66 years to Frank Lewis Skiles, who pre-deceased her in 2013.
Marie’s childhood began in Southern Cross, Montana, where her Father, Michael Benson, worked in the Southern Cross Company gold mining operation, and her mother Mary Brennan Benson worked in the Post Office. Marie graduated high school at age 17 and attended a three-year Nursing School in Idaho, completing her R.N. program with high honors in three years. That is where she met Frank Skiles, to whom she would be married in February 1947.
After passing her State Certification for Nursing, she worked in the local hospital. They lived for two years in Los Angeles while he finished college at UCLA since his prior college years were interrupted with his World War II Army service. While in LA their daughter was born in 1949. After he graduated, they lived in Idaho for a few years while he worked for the Bureau of Reclamation. In 1952, they moved to the Washington, D.C. area where they lived until retirement many years later. Their son Michael was born in 1956.
Marie held several nursing positions in the D.C. area, but mainly was a dedicated mother and homemaker. She was also highly inquisitive, and took additional college coursework at Prince George’s Community College, spending many joyful hours studying history and literature. She was a very dedicated parent, taking her children to local events such as Navy Band concerts, museums, providing for music lessons, etc. These efforts helped both of her children be successful in their respective fields. Marie lived most of her D.C. years in Suitland, Maryland.
When Frank retired in 1972, they moved back West, living in Avon and Hamilton, Montana, before settling in Anaconda, where she had graduated from Anaconda High School and had such deep roots, returning to live for over 20 years together on Chestnut Street. They always enjoyed pets, and Tipper the lab was an important companion to them especially in their later years.
Marie picked up new skills easily, such as learning to sew very competently from the woman across the street. Highly social, she developed many friendships which lasted throughout her life. She was extroverted, and loved meaningful conversations. She sought to promote learning and knowledge, and often donated books to the local library in Anaconda.
She was ahead of her time in such areas as tolerance for different races, religions and creeds, for being ecologically minded, promoting healthy eating, and for women’s rights. She was a freethinker like her husband, and participated actively in the Unitarian Church for much of her life. She had social consciousness, and cared about what was going on in the world. She loved music and enjoyed a wide range of categories such as Tom Jones, classical, and the pipe music of Zanfir. She enjoyed sewing and trying new things in the kitchen such as making yogurt from scratch.
Marie will be remembered by family and friends for her friendly willingness to converse, her broad knowledge of many subjects, her cheerful demeanor and for being ahead of her time.
She is survived by her daughter, Linda Skiles Thomas, married to Jim Thomas, by their three children, Jim Jr., married to Ivy Thomas, John, and Cathy, married to Justin Ivey, and by her daughter-in-law, Marie Chavez, widow of her son, James Michael Skiles, who pre-deceased her, and by Marie’s daughters, Natasha and Solange.
Her life will be celebrated at a Memorial Service Saturday, September 16th at 1 p.m. at the Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral Home, in Anaconda, with Rev. Myrna Havner, officiating. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the American Humane Society.
Longfellow Finnegan Riddle Funeral & Cremation Service is entrusted with Marie’s funeral arrangements. You may pay your condolences at www.longfellowfinneganriddle.com.