Skinner, James 'Michael'

We lost Michael in the early morning of September, 22, 2021, from complications of an aggressive cancer, just three weeks before his 83rd birthday.

James ‘Michael’ Skinner was born in London, England, and immigrated to Toronto in August, 1956, with a passion for those big American cars of the ‘60s.  He later illustrated many of the new models through his work with various art design studios in Toronto.  His talent for drawing and illustration drew him into the advertising business.  It was a hectic, heady business to be in during the late 1960s to mid 1970s.

During the latter part of his career, he and Bob Karman opened up their own studio involving photographic retouching.

Soon enough, computers began edging their way into illustration.  Michael preferred the drawing board to the keyboard so opted out of advertising and decided to try his hand at fine art.  His medium of choice was watercolour – not the easiest medium to work with.  In the last couple of years, he began experimenting with acrylics.  His paintings are reflective of the places he has visited and lived – landscapes of this lovely area of Georgian Bay:  of the Chesapeake Bay area in Virginia, where he and Robyn owned a house for several years:  vibrant paintings of the Bahamas, and his wonderful renditions of many sailing craft.

Around the same time as he moved away from advertising, he bought Banyandah, a 26’ lapstrake, wooden Folkboat and discovered a new passion.  The Gucci loafers and designer suits were thrown aside and coveralls, jeans and boat shoes became the uniform.

After Wednesday night yacht club races in Toronto Harbour and LORC on the weekends on Lake Ontario, Michael decided he needed to do something different.

For almost 40 consecutive winters, he sailed and lived aboard his next two boats, Fruition and Estrellita.  His constant crew, fellow adventurer, chief cook and bottle-washer was his partner, Robyn.

His infectious laughter, sense of fun and rants will be sorely missed by his two brothers and their families, David and Stephen Skinner, the families of his deceased sister and brother-in-law, Janet and Deryck Blythe, his fellow sailing mates at the Reef Boat Club, his large ‘sailing family’ throughout North America, the Meaford Creative Arts group, his many friends in Canada and the United States, his dog friends who will miss his treats, and most of all, his partner, best friend, and companion, Robyn Hunter, otherwise known as ‘Robynski’.

A celebration of life will be planned at a later date.

As your expression of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to a charity of your choice through the Ferguson Funeral Home in Meaford.

Details

Celebration of Life at a later date.

Donations: Charity of Choice
Make a donation in memory of James 'Michael' Skinner


Memories & Messages of condolence

  1. Peri McQuay
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Alas, I only met Michael recently, but if I had to choose a word it would be “panache”. Even in his last years he was warm, sure, witty and invariably interesting. My heart reaches out to you, Robyn, heading on alone without your special partner, though with a lifetime of memories of adventures.

    Reply
  2. Alison Ball
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Our first meeting with Michael and Robyn was in an isolated anchorage in the Bahamas, and involved somebody else’s outboard engine. We came out of the escapade with $20 and a case of beer, but more importantly, with a friendship that has lasted 40 years.

    Losing Michael is like losing a brother. I will miss his laugh, his rants, his kindness, his ability to make friends everywhere he went.

    Fair winds and following seas, my friend.

    Reply
  3. John Verrill
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    We will miss Michael and send love and prayers to family, friends and to Robyn. Peace.

    Reply
  4. Connie and John Cermak
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Dear Robyn,
    John and I are feeling a deep sadness having received your thoughtful message to let us know about Michael. Reading his obituary gave us a much bigger picture of him than we had known, having shared experiences with you two for only a few years. All times that brought us together were special to us. You always knew the most fun people and often shared them with us in beautiful places we all loved.

    For us, there were never enough of those together times, and we are feeling that very profoundly just now. Please know how fondly we will always think of you. If you find yourself in our area, you know you are always welcome. I am thankful that we are in contact hope we will continue to make that so.
    We send our love to you with sincere gratitude for the privilege of our friendship.
    Always,
    Connie and John

    Reply
  5. Brenda
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Dear Robyn…

    While we are saddened by the news of your loss, we are heartened by your reflection you shared of a life that was well and fully lived.

    You and Michael have been part of our lives for the past 45 years. We can recall many wonderful memories…all laughing until our cheeks hurt and one in particular when Tara was 2yrs old showing you both her world and thought you should be part of it, by having Michael watch her TV show, “The polka dot door” when he then realized his friend “Gary Files” was the main character!
    And, the time Tara came running to tell me that Robyn said that they could “go and fly a kite”.

    When the time is right I hope you will reach out and we will find a way to gather and share many of our good times spent together.
    Love,
    Brenda, Viktors, Tara and Bree

    Reply
  6. Mira Sampson
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Dear Robyn,
    i am so sad to hear about Michael’s passing. My heart goes out to you.
    Years ago, before they moved to BC, Inga and Ron gave me a pretty watercolour painted by Michael. It’s a church in Meaford in the fall. It hangs in the kitchen and I look at it every day. It’s a fond reminder not only of Inga and Ron, but you and Michael as well, a piece of Canada and my Canadian friends I keep close here in Virginia.
    Sending you a big hug and if you decide you visit the Chesapeake, please stop by. I would love to see you.
    -Mira

    Reply
  7. Shirley Keaveney
    Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Robyn, I’m so sorry for the loss of Michael. I always enjoyed a conversation with him and will treasure the custom piece he painted for me some years ago, a beautiful scene of the Bighead from the 12th line. My thoughts are with you,

    Reply
  8. Lorene Taylor
    Friday, September 24, 2021

    Dear Robyn,

    I was so shocked and saddened to hear about Michael. I have always enjoyed our chats on the trail about your travels and our travel plans. Michael was such a talented artist and Quentin has always admired his work.

    Thinking of you….Lorene Taylor and Quentin Docherty

    Reply
  9. Brenda Ratcliffe
    Friday, September 24, 2021

    Dear Robyn I was so shocked to read of the sudden passing of Michael. I so enjoyed your company on the trails and so pleased that you included me. Thinking of you. Michael was a wonderful person. Please call if you need anything. Sending big hugs.

    Reply
  10. Lynda Clancy
    Friday, September 24, 2021

    Our dear friend Robyn
    As you well know, Michael spent his life loving and laughing – what a gift.

    Lyn and Mike

    Reply
  11. Mary McTaggart
    Friday, September 24, 2021

    We at MCAA are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s passing. We will miss his livelier than life spirit and all his rants. He was an amazing Watercolourist and his artwork was very inspiring to many of us. He would come in regularly and help critique our paintings whether we liked it or not. There will be a huge hole at MCAA.
    Rest in Peace dear friend.
    MaryMcTaggart
    MCAA

    Reply
  12. Sara Lewis
    Friday, September 24, 2021

    JOY is the word we associate with Michael, first of all. Then his beautiful watercolors of The Bahamas that fill our house and bring back so many fond memories of rendezvous with Estrellita in anchorages of turquoise waters. It is Michael’s artwork that illustrated a devotional book and formed the Explorer logo for our chartbooks. But most of all, the way he always made us laugh. It was good medicine just being in his presence. And, of course, Robyn played the perfect straight “man” to his delightful humor. He left a huge hole in many hearts but is probably making the angels laugh now! We are keeping Robyn close to our hearts.

    Sara and Monty Lewis

    Reply
  13. Fran Falls
    Friday, September 24, 2021

    Robyn, I was shocked to hear of Michaels death, praying your memories will bring you comfort in your time of greiving, Sincerely Fran

    Reply
  14. Pamela Barefoot
    Saturday, September 25, 2021

    We were friends since 1984, we always got into trouble if we sat beside each other at dinner parties on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Jim Green and I are rich with memories of Michael….clamming together on the Barrier Islands, sharing many meals and lots of wine and hours designing product labels. Not to forget our two weeks in Scotland, exploring the Isle of Skye and later on our stay on Manitoulin Island. I feel fortunate to have heard his hearty laugh one final time three days before he unexpectedly sailed off without us. Love you Robynsky, we will savor our memories of Michael.

    Reply
  15. Don & Glynda Matheson
    Saturday, September 25, 2021

    Dear Robyn
    We were so sorry to hear of the passing of Micheal. So many great memories of our Bahama cruising times with you and Micheal. We still laugh while thinking of his story about the boat anchored beside Estrellita in Hope Town dragging the anchor when it was your boat idling forward. No one could tell a story like Micheal.

    Thinking of you.
    Don & Glynda

    Reply
  16. Mickey Cullen
    Saturday, September 25, 2021

    Robyn So sad to hear of Michael’s passing. I will miss his enthusiastic greetings as we crossed paths on our morning walks.

    Reply
  17. Ross & Rosemary Newkirk
    Saturday, September 25, 2021

    We were so very sorry to hear of the death of our friend Michael. We fondly remember the many good times we had together since the early 1990’s cruising in the Bahamas, fitting out boats, walking & exploring. Michael, always the gracious host and leader, was appreciated for his acerbic observations that were always positive and humorous. He was a generous, caring, and creative man. We will miss him greatly.

    Reply
  18. Patrick Mascoe
    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    My wife Louanne Tee, has long been friends with Robin. Two years ago we went and stayed with Robin and Michael when they were house-sitting in Georgia. Michael had a great sense of humour and loved to laugh.
    He was interesting to talk to and he and I connected immediately. He would tell people I was his son and then I would say something like, “I’m just so happy to be reunited with my dad, now that he’s out of prison”. He would laugh so hard. He was very likable. We are so sorry Robin, that you have lost your best friend. A person who remains in our memories is never really gone. Michael was the kind of man you could never forget.

    Reply
  19. Karen Kinnear
    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    We are so very sad to hear of Michael’s passing. We will miss his enthusiasm and whit that he brought into our lives. We enjoyed Michael’s and Robyn’s company just recently here in Oakville. We are glad to have enjoyed his rants and infectious laughter and interesting conversation from our sailing days in the Bahamas. We are also grateful to have some of his paintings to remember him by, especially the one he did of “Southern Cross” in the Bahamas.

    Fair Winds dear friend.
    Karen Kinnear and Marcel Steinz

    Reply
  20. Mike Belec
    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    Dear Robyn:
    Very sad and very surprised to hear of Michael’s passing. I was always glad to see him as he walked past our house on his morning constitutional with you, Robin.
    When I thought of Michael I was immediately put in mind of his infectious laugh and I knew that the time spent with him would be full of fun and that Michael could be counted on to laugh at my jokes! I am one of the many folks that will miss him a lot.

    Fondest regards to you, Robyn
    Mike Belec

    Reply
  21. mary-louise craven
    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    Dear Robyn. Just heard today when i did my shift at the netshed of Michael’s death: please know all your friends from The Friends of the Meaford Library are thinking of you and ready to help in any way.
    with all my sympathy, mary-louise craven

    Reply
  22. Janice Neilson
    Sunday, September 26, 2021

    Great memories of our childhood holidays all those decades ago at Bournemouth.
    Janice (nee Gould) Neilson
    Sydney
    Australia

    Reply
  23. Jane Brown Robertson
    Wednesday, September 29, 2021

    Dear Robyn, We were deeply saddened to hear of Michael’s passing. Ian and I will dearly miss our morning talks with him on our walks. Max was always so happy to see both of you and get his treat. He was a wonderful person with such wit, charm and always made us laugh. He shared his love of sailing, his views on politics and world events and his love of his life with you in Meaford.
    Our deepest condolences,
    Ian and Jane Robertson
    Meaford

    Reply
  24. VIC HOWLETT
    Wednesday, September 29, 2021

    ROBYN SO SAD TO HEAR OF MICHAEL’S DEATH. HE WAS ALWAYS A BRIGHT SPOT OF THE MORNING ROUTINE. IF I CAN BE OF ASSISTANCE IN ANY WAY JUST ASK. SEE YOU ON ONE OF THE MORNING WALKS.

    VIC HOWLETT

    Reply
  25. Patricia McCulloch
    Saturday, October 2, 2021

    Dear Robyn…. I have lived in your house at 7 Meadville Dr since I bought it from you and Michael in 1998. My home has been a source of warmth and comfort for me such as I hadn’t before known. I am writing to you from Michael’s studio and wishing you comfort and healing. I remember him and the tiny painting that he did of 7 Meadville that you kept beside your bed.
    Thinking of you,
    Patty McCulloch

    Reply
  26. Kimberlee Kondrat
    Tuesday, October 5, 2021

    Robyn, Armando and I have beautiful memories of you and Michael that remain with us — framed, like watercolor paintings, by smiles and laughter. Peace to you.

    Reply

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