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Obituary: George Robert “Skip” Skuggen

As received from the Jacobson Funeral Home:

George Robert “Skip” Skuggen, 91 of Avon Lake, OH., formerly of L’Anse, MI passed away surrounded by his loving family after a courageous battle with cancer on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. He was born October 14, 1930, to parents, Captain George T., and Myrtle (nee Johnston) Skuggen in Hancock, MI.

Skip passed up an opportunity to play football for Michigan State and instead chose to serve our country in the United States Navy, stationed in Norfolk, VA during the Korean War. He became proficient in piloting tugboats in the Navy and upon discharge joined Wilson Marine Transit Company, following his father and grandfather (both captains) in shipping goods all over the Great Lakes .  He helped innovate the use of tug and barge combinations to more efficiently move freight, as Captain of the tug-barge, the Brian McAllister.  

Captain Skuggen moved from his beloved Michigan to Ohio in order to take on the job of Captain of the Fleet at Wilson Marine Transit, allowing him to be home with his family and not at sea nine months of the year.  Later, with his deep knowledge and expertise of the waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, he was recommended by George Steinbrenner and other leaders in the shipping industry to take the job of Director Great Lakes Pilotage out of the 9th   Coast Guard District in Cleveland, under the Secretary of Transportation.  He served in that capacity for over 20 years.  Upon retirement, he became involved in helping the Environmental Protection Agency, by captaining research vessels to help clean up the Great Lakes.  He also tested newly launched minesweepers in sea trials for the United States Navy.

He was active until recently in the International Ship Masters’ Association, a member of the Masons and served in Avon Lake Kiwanis, helping with Beachpark Tower as well as on the Avon Lake Library Board for many years. Skip was an expert woodworker and often built furniture, birdhouses, and other items to be sold for charitable causes. He was renowned for his wonderful storytelling and for many years travelled around the country giving presentations on the tragic sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

He married the love of his life, Mary Katherine, in Baraga, MI at St. Ann’s Church. They spent a wonderful 63 years together full of love, joy, and laughter. Together, they provided an incredible example for their children, grandchildren, and friends.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Katherine; loving children George O. Skuggen (Debra) of Avon Lake, Lynda M. Brainard (Robert) of Sheffield Lake and Bonnie S. Robosky (Richard) of Chagrin Falls; cherished grandchildren Thomas Skuggen (Bridget), Nicholas Skuggen (Sarah Branscome), Mary Kerr (Dan Holahan, Jr.) and Robert Lash (Jessie); great-grandchildren Liam, Ewan and Nora Kerr.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Captain George T. Skuggen and Myrtle F. Johnston as well as, brothers Donald, Douglas, Robert, and Henry.

Memorial contributions may be forwarded in Skip’s honor to the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. https://dvs.ohio.gov/veterans-homes/sandusky

Burial will be in the L’Anse Evergreen Cemetery.  Jacobson Funeral Home is assisting the family.  You may sign George’s guest book at www.jacobsonfuneralhome.com

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