A man who grew up in Kentucky, spent two years of his life serving his country in Vietnam, and then devoted 42 years and millions of miles to the trucking lifestyle that he loved so much finally took a well-deserved rest at the end of his life on Oct. 4, 2021. Stanley Willard Skidmore Sr. peacefully went home to be with the Lord, while his wife and two of his children were by his side early Monday evening at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC.
Stan was born on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 1943, in the small town of Sherpherdsville, Kentucky, just outside of Louisville. Born eight weeks early at a time when most premature babies did not survive, he was so small that his first crib was a dresser drawer. He never did grow to be a large man in stature, however he was tough as nails and rarely backed down from a fight in his younger years.
He was born to drive, and he liked to drive fast. Stan first began driving an 18-wheeler at the age of 15, before he had a license to do so legally. Law enforcement did not look kindly on this, so after a traffic stop, he had to take a hiatus from daytime driving until he turned 18 years old and could do so legally.
Never a man to let a rule stop him, Stan just shifted his truck driving work to the night time hours; riding with other drivers during the day, and then taking over for them at night while the main driver slept.
As the war in Vietnam was heating up in the 1960s, Stan tried to enlist in the Marine Corps, but the Marines wouldn’t have him, and he was turned down due to a heart condition that was likely the result of his premature birth. A few years later at the age of 25, he was drafted by the Army, who said they would take him, heart problem and all.
He drove an Army M48 Patton Tank, named the “Romping Stomper,” in Vietnam. It was in Vietnam where he earned his long-time CB handle “Land Grabber” after one of the tracks on his tank was damaged by enemy fire. With one of two tracks disabled, his tank began twisting and tearing into the earth. An onlooker said “Look at that Land Grabber” and the name stuck.
After two years and four months in country, Stan was allowed to come home and was honorably discharged from the Army. From there, he went back to his first love of trucking. As Stan often said, he “was a truck driver when it meant something to be one.” He came along before automatic transmissions, cell phones and GPS devices made the job easier. He took great pride in his work, and always wanted to dress neatly and for his truck to be clean and well-maintained. His log books were always impeccable, even if they weren’t always truthful. He did what he needed to do to get his job done.
As his son Stanley pointed out, it is fitting that this life-long trucker, for whom a CB radio was an essential tool of his trade, passed away on the date of 10-4.
While trucking was his passion, Stan’s family was his life. Fittingly, Stan met his eventual wife, the young and pretty red-head, Mildred “Peanut” Savage, when he was running from a state trooper while speeding to Rose Hill Poultry for a delivery. Peanut was working in the gatehouse at the plant, and she closed the gate so she could talk with the handsome trucker who seemed to be in a hurry. She had no idea that he was being pursued, and the closed gate gave the trooper a little more time to catch Stan. He spent some time in the Wallace, NC jail over that incident, with his truck chained to the town’s water tower. It was the right way to begin a relationship, apparently, because Stan and Peanut married and had two children, Vera and Stanley, Jr.
Stan continued to drive a truck, and for most of their 45-year marriage, he would leave on Sunday evenings and return home the following Friday night. In an era before cell phones, and when long distance calling was very expensive, Stan called home every night to check on his family. Vera said he never missed one of her piano recitals, and Stanley Jr. said he made it to numerous Boy Scout activities.
Health problems always plagued Stan, but he never complained. He was given a new 9-year lease on life on Oct. 19, 2012, when his daughter Vera donated one of her kidneys to him. His health improved immediately, and he no longer had to spend hours each week hooked up to a dialysis machine. For as long as it was possible, the family always celebrated their “Transplantiversary” together.
He was predeceased by his father, Paul Garnet Skidmore, and mother, Lena Phillips Wilcox, brother Paul Edward Skidmore, sister Imogene Skidmore Spotts and granddaughter Valentina Marie Lorenzo.
Stan is survived by his wife, Mildred “Peanut” Skidmore; daughter Vera Simpson and husband Curtis; son, Stanley Skidmore, Jr., and wife Lindsay, all of Wallace, NC; daughter Lena Vassiliou and husband Pete of Waterbury, Ct.; daughter Terrie Jackle and husband Bill, of Acworth, Ga.; grandchildren Madelyn Coombs, Robert Coombs, Hayes Skidmore, Hollis Skidmore, Kellie Vanasse, Aron Jackle, Anthony Jackle, Diane Wantuck, Jacob Jackle, David Jackle, Thomas Jackle, and Sergio Lorenzo.
A celebration of the life of Stanley Willard Skidmore, Sr., will be held at 4 p.m., Oct. 7, at Wallace Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow immediately in the Fellowship Hall. Please wear masks at all times and follow Covid-19 protocols. For those who are unable to attend, the service will be streamed live at wallacepresbyterian.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made directly to Vidant Health Foundation, Attn: Transplant Services, P.O. Box 8489, Greenville, NC 27835-8489.