Joan Phyllis Skaggs

Joan Phyllis Skaggs
Date Of Birth: 08/15/1936
Date of Death: 12/15/2020

Joan Phyllis Skaggs passed away December 15, 2020 after a long life of adventures. Born in Black Point, Nova Scotia, to Emmerson and Leah Wilnoff, she was the youngest of nine siblings. In 1959, Joan graduated from the nursing program at Victoria General Hospital in nearby Halifax, then moved to California with a couple of friends. Working at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, she met merchant marine Walter DeWayne Skaggs, called John. They married in Las Vegas in 1962 and bought their Portland West Slope home in 1963. They had 24 years together with their dogs, enjoying their friends and neighbors, his and hers matching Trans Am cars, and hunting and fishing expeditions to Eastern Oregon and elsewhere. John died in 1986. Joan worked as a psychiatric nurse until her retirement.

After John’s death, Joan followed her passions, volunteering at the Portland Art Museum, ushering at plays and concerts, and attending an array of musical events from her season tickets at the Oregon Symphony to jazz festivals, ragtime, and, every year, David Friesen’s Christmas concert at Woodstock Wine & Deli. For many years she coordinated the usher program at Artists Repertory Theatre. She took classes in watercolor painting, calligraphy, and much more, including piano and bridge at the Elsie Stuhr Senior Center in Beaverton. Wherever she was, she made friends.

As a young woman, she skied and ice-skated. In recent years, a day was not quite right if she didn’t start with a swim and friends at a local pool.

Joan also volunteered in her community. One program where she helped was a U.S. Post Office- Providence St. Vincent Medical Center partnership to sign up neighbors for CarrierLink, so mail carriers could be alerted to help in emergencies.

There were always dogs in Joan’s life and for many years they have been Dalmatians. Her last two, Jamie and Freckles, were her lively companions for over a decade.

Another passion was traveling. Joan visited many places in Europe on tours led by guides that became fast friends. She went to Africa with All Classical Radio and with other groups to Cuba and Scandinavia.

Joan loved her neighborhood and it was mutual. She could often be found in her front yard tending to her roses and potted plants, or just sitting in a folding chair, full of cheerful greetings and laughter for the many walkers and their dogs passing by. She knew all the kids for several blocks around. One night after her passing a children’s Christmas parade became an homage to Joan with loving signs and singing,

Joan is survived by her sister Lois of Black Point, sister-in-law Myrtle of Queensland, her nephew David Henry and his family of Halifax, and other nieces and nephews in Nova Scotia. She was predeceased by her beloved husband John, her sisters Pauline, Mary, Florence and Jean, and brothers John, Ross and Nelson.

6 Responses to “Joan Phyllis Skaggs”

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  1. Linda Hubley Smith says:

    To the family of Joan,

    I have wonderful memories of Joan when she was a young girl in Black Point, Nova Scotia. She took me coasting, swimming and out in her Dad’s row boat. Joan always had a smile on her face and was like a big sister to me. She was truly a great person and my memories of her bring a smile to my face. Rest in peace Joan, a life well lived. Linda

  2. david henry says:


  3. Diane Audiss says:

    The vibrant Joan we knew and loved was all about being w people, attending the arts, traveling to foreign lands, being engaged. Great Woman!

    The parties on her patio or around her upright piano, which eventually was traded in for a baby grand piano, were always fun. She loved being w groups of people whether it was to celebrate a birthday or a 12th Night celebration. She loved live music whether it was performed in her home, at Breakfast of Champions or at a public venue.
    She loved Sunday mornings reading the New York Times at her kitchen table. Yes, Joan was an amazing person. Everyone who met her, loved her!

    I know that the last 9 months of her life were difficult for her as the swimming pool, the theatres, the symphony, the public gathering places were closed because of the pandemic. However, the few times we were together, she always had that Energy for Life. Yes, Joan, we will all miss you. May we all live our lives as exuberantly as you!

  4. glenna murphy. says:

    I took my training with Joan @VGH in Hfx,NS.&became close friends .We corresponded regularly & whenever she got home to ns. I had a visit.She got home for one reunion & got to see lots of classmates.In June 1994 I got to visit her & a more gracious hostess you’d never find.I got to see Rose Parade .Other ocean.mountains & rivers in abundance!! It was a fashionating trip too short & I hoped to go again.But time passestoo fast .I enjoyed our long phonecalls every month & we spoke in early Dec..Made me aware of her failing health.I will miss her and know she’ll be missed by all. Your forever friend Glenna Murphy.

  5. Kelly Reilly says:

    Joan was a lovely friend and neighbor. We will miss her dearly.

  6. Kim Houston says:

    Aunt Joannie was my “Happy Aunt”, as she was always cheerful, playful and full of enthusiasm for life, and I always looked forward to her visits. My we all celebrate her zest and zeal and carry forward all of her great character qualities to make this world a better place as she did each and every day. On one of her trips home she brought me a mini bat from Dodger Stadium which I still treasure today. Love Kim Houston

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