Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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February 26, 2014

Celebrating the Life of Johnny Skiles

Athens — John Levi Skiles, known as Johnny to his many friends, and John L. to family, was a man of many interests and abilities.  A loving family man and friend to many, he had the type of personality that everyone loved to be around.  He enjoyed watching sports, listening to Gospel music, and telling his stories of his many adventures throughout the years.  Most of all, he loved being with his family and friends.   

Johnny Skiles entered the world in the Roaring 20’s, a time of excitement and energy for our country.  This may explain a lot about his personality!  He was born July 11, 1923 in the Colfax Community of Van Zandt County, Texas.  He was the second eldest of four children born to Thomas Alvah and Minnie Hendley Skiles. 

After high school, he joined the U.S. Army as a Paratrooper where he was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia.  

His early career days took him all over the country.  One of those places was New York City.  When he left there, he came home with a car full of new clothes.  He loved buying new boots, hats, belts, etc…  He went to work for a moving company out of Dallas driving a truck coast to coast.  It was during this time in 1945, that Johnny married the love of his life, Dorothy McMeekin.  He enjoyed telling their love story of how they met on a blind date, had one more date, and on the third one decided to get married that very day.  This past August 10th they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.

Johnny’s truck driving days took him many places.  He usually always brought home interesting souvenirs for the family.  Probably the most interesting were the monkeys he brought back from Miami, Florida.  Twice!  The first time, he brought one home on a leash and handed it to Don and James when they were just little tykes.  He said they took the leash and took off running with it.  Unfortunately, the monkey didn’t get to stay.  Dorothy sent it back out on the truck the next trip!

He was quite the Entrepreneur.  In 1963 he used the experience he had gained working for large moving companies and started Athens Transfer & Storage.  His family worked right along beside him to build the business.  He believed in hard work, honesty, and good customer service.

Also, he tried his hand at several different companies in addition to the moving company.  At one time he owned three gas stations in Athens.  He opened a trailer manufacturing company.  He opened a pancake café.  He opened a Bar-B-Que restaurant.  He started an antique auction in Athens.  The highlight of his career in auctions was when he bought the contents of Jack Ruby’s nightclub, The Carousel Club, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  He held an auction and sold the contents of the club which gained attention from far and wide.  The night before the auction, the warehouse was broken into and the Jack Ruby safe was stolen, a mystery still unresolved.

Johnny enjoyed handing out his pens and candy to everyone he saw around town, including his friends at the Tax Assessor/Collector’s office, as well as many others that he saw on a regular basis.  He looked forward to his daily visits to the Prosperity Bank where he loved to hand out candy and pens to “the girls” as he so affectionately called them.  That was one of the favorite errands of his day. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Martele Davis, his brother, Robert Mastin Skiles, his grand-daughter, Laurie Christine Skiles, and his nephews, Phil Davis, Tim Davis and Jeff Davis.

He is survived by his loving wife, Dorothy Skiles.  His sons, Don Skiles and wife Claudia of Albany; James Skiles, of Athens; and Terry Skiles and wife Nedra Jean of Athens; his daughters, Judy Stewart and husband Billy Don, of Cross Roads; and Cheryl Tidmore and husband Marcus, of Athens; 15 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; and 6 great-great-grandchildren; his brother, Jere Skiles, and wife Margaret, of Athens; sister-in-law, Lula Mae Barnett, of Athens; nephews, Randy Skiles and Curtis Barnett; niece, Wanda Barnett Hernandez; and a host of special friends.

Services are scheduled for 10:00 A.M. Saturday at Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. George Couch officiating.  Burial will follow in Athens City Cemetery under the direction of Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home.  Pallbearers will be Grandsons, Randy Stewart, Jimmy Skiles, Bradley Stewart, Don E. Skiles, II, Matthew Skiles, Dustin K. Adams, Frank Skiles and James H. Skiles.  Honorary Pallbearers will be Billy Don Stewart, Milton K. Adams, Wayne Brown, Randy Whatley, and Eddie Lick.

Visitation for family and friends will be 5-7 Friday evening at the funeral home.  If desired, memorials may be made to The Family Peace Project in Athens or the East Texas Arboretum in Athens.


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