Bessie Ellen (Knight) Skinner
Bessie Ellen Skinner, 92, died Wednesday Oct.6, 2021 in Boise, with her daughter by her side. She had a beautiful, full life’s journey. Bessie was born July 21, 1929 in New Plymouth, Idaho, the only child of Ray and Carrie Knight. She graduated as valedictorian of her New Plymouth High School class of 1947. She graduated from the College of Idaho in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Bessie worked at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, CA for a short time, then St. Lukes Hospital in Boise as a lab technician. It was there that a friend set her up on a blind date with Bob Skinner, whom she admitted was very handsome. It was love at first sight. Bob and Bessie were married April 17, 1955 and enjoyed over 57 years together before Bob’s passing.They added a son Jonathan and a daughter Kathryn, built a home in southeast Boise and remained there for over 50 years. She loved her Crystal Way “family”.
Bessie happily dedicated her life to caring for her family and giving of her time and talents for her community. She loved helping in school classrooms, libraries, her church, Garden Club, Ski Club, Morrison Center, Western Idaho Fair and many others. In 1990, the Idaho Statesman honored her volunteerism in a Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen.
Bessie was a wonderful cook, but an exceptional baker. The family enjoyed homemade cinnamon rolls, cakes, pies and always a variety of cookies and treats. She loved sharing her delicacies. Everyone looked forward to her trays of cookies and peanut brittle at the holidays. Whenever she asked “what can I bring?”, the resounding answer was “Dessert!”
Bessie loved being outdoors. The family enjoyed lots of camping trips in the Sun Valley and Stanley areas and later spending time at the family cabin at Warm Lake. She could identify every wildflower. Bessie and Kathryn loved picking huckleberries, which Bessie then turned into more delicacies. She and Bob became avid birdwatchers and enjoyed day trips with the Golden Eagle Audubon Society. They also took extended birdwatching trips to the southwest, Costa Rica and throughout the U.S. After the kids learned to ski, Bob and Bessie decided they needed to join the fun and so they learned to ski. When Kathryn was in the Bogus Basin junior racing program, they started helping with the races. Soon Bessie began helping Bill Tuller with timing the races. She loved working the timing shack with Bill and of course always brought enough cookies for all the volunteers as well as any racers that needed a pick-me-up. Bessie loved to ski with the kids, especially following Jon into the powder. Bob and Bessie were active members of the Bogus Basin Ski Club and Bessie served on the Board of Directors for 18 years. They were able to join the Ski Club on a trip to Austria. In 2010, Bessie and Bob were honored with a lifetime membership award. Bessie’s favorite outdoor activity was gardening. She was an active member of the Golden Garden Club for too many years to count. The family enjoyed a yearly bounty of vegetables, but growing flowers, especially Dahlias, Chrysanthemums and Zinnias was her passion. She started entering flowers in the Western Idaho Fair in the early 60’s and didn’t stop until a broken hip in 2017 kept her from getting there. Her ribbons and Best of Show awards counted in the hundreds. Bessie looked forward to the fair every year so she could work in the floral department. She started off volunteering for many years, then became an employee and eventually served as assistant superintendent of the floral department. She loved visiting with people and teaching them about the flowers.
Bessie had a true artistic talent. She seemed to excel at whatever she tried. She took some watercolor classes from Dan Looney and soon was producing beautiful landscape watercolor paintings that adorned the family home and Bob’s office walls. She especially loved old barns, so trips often involved stopping to photograph barns, some barely standing. For a few years she hand painted all of her Christmas cards. She also took up pottery and designed some unique rustic to beautiful vessels that worked perfectly for her flower designs.
With her love of flowers, Bessie’s greatest artistic passion was flower design. She studied design and won awards throughout Idaho and the northwest. This led to continued studies to become a Master Judge of Horticulture and Design. She then judged flower shows and fairs in Idaho and the northwest for many years. In 1993, the Idaho Statesman featured an article on Bessie, “Flower Artist turns junk into beauty.” She loved to provide flower designs and arrangements for the Morrison Center, Browns Gallery, weddings and her church.
Bessie joined the Morrison Center Auxiliary in the 80’s and continued until she couldn’t drive there. She loved guiding or taking tickets for all the wonderful shows and events. She served on the Board of Directors for many years in charge of floral arrangements.
Bessie was also an active member of Boise 1st Congregational UCC. She taught Sunday school, was active with women’s fellowship but especially loved serving on the Wedding Committee. She would often provide flower arrangements for the receptions. She would also take a fresh arrangement for the sanctuary on most Sundays.
After Bob retired, Bob and Bessie were able to travel more, throughout the U.S. and Europe. A couple favorite trips were attending the Chelsea Garden Show in London and the annual Flower Festival in Christchurch New Zealand.
The family thanks the staff of Brookdale Parkcenter Assisted Living for caring for and making Bessie feel at home and loved. And a special thank you to the Horizon Hospice team for being so caring and attentive to Bessie.
Bessie was preceded in death by her husband Bob. She is survived by her daughter Kathryn (Ross Oyen) of Boise, son Jon (Sandy) of Grandview, Idaho, granddaughter Joie Ellen, step grandchildren Jamie, Jessie, Casey, Cameron (and spouses) and step great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Idaho Botanical Garden, Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation or a charity of your choosing. There will not be a service at this time. A Celebration of Life will be scheduled at a later date. Celebrate Bessie’s life with the memories that are most special to you.
Bessie’s life journey is complete. Her beautiful presence, smile and generosity of time and talent will be greatly missed by family and friends.
To send flowers to Bessie's family, please visit our floral store.