Benjamin Franklin Skinner IV, corporate executive, active civic leader, beloved father and grandfather, died at age 87 on Friday, November 16, 2018, in Atlanta following a long and valiant battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
Frank was born in Covington, Virginia to the Reverend B. Franklin Skinner and Charlotte Walton Skinner. He was a graduate of the University of Richmond where he was active in student affairs. A natural leader, he was elected president of the student government.
Upon graduation, Frank joined the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Virginia in Richmond as a staff assistant, thus beginning what would become a 40-year career in the telecommunications industry.
Shortly after joining the C&P Telephone Company, he was called to serve in the United States Army during The Korean War.
After a two-year tour of duty, Frank returned to Richmond to resume his work at C&P. There, he met and married the former Ruth Ann Gee on what he always called the best day of his life. They enjoyed an extraordinarily happy marriage of 52 years until her death in 2008.
Frank’s career took him to assignments in Washington, DC, Roanoke, Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina, Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. He was elected president of Southern Bell on February 1, 1982.
He retired at the end of 1992 as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BellSouth Telecommunications. Wherever his assignments took him, Frank involved himself in local community initiatives giving generously of his time, his talents and his considerable energy.
He had the unique distinction of leading as General Campaign Chairman of the United Way in three major cities—Atlanta, Miami, and Charlotte.
Long associated with the Salvation Army, Frank was a Life Member and past Chairman of its National Advisory Board. He was honored with election as a life member of the Salvation Army, was awarded the Others Award and was inducted into the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service, the highest recognition the Salvation Army can give a lay person.
Frank served on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce in each of the cities in which he lived. He served as chairman in Atlanta. He served as Chairman of the Board of Central Atlanta Progress and as a Trustee of the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation and the J. M. Tull Charitable Foundation, Inc.
He also chaired the United Negro College Fund Campaign. He served as a commissioner on the Atlanta Housing Authority Board, was a past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and held leadership positions in a number of other organizations.
Frank’s keen interest in education was clearly evidenced by his service as a trustee of several colleges and universities. He was a Trustee of Morehouse College, Davidson College, The University of Richmond, Gardner-Webb College and Columbia Theological Seminary. Frank served as Executive in Residence at the University of Richmond Business School.
He was also a trustee and past board chairman of the Charlotte Latin School. Frank had a strong desire to become part of each community in which he lived, he served on the Board of Directors of several corporations including BellSouth Telecommunications and its parent company BellSouth.
He also served on the Board of Nations Bank, The Barclays American Corporation, Interstate /Johnson Lane, Southeast Bank and Shoney’s. Frank Skinner received honorary doctorate degrees from The University of Richmond, Jacksonville University, Morehouse College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center.
He also received awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award of Christians and Jews, the Blanchard Award for Ethical Leadership, The Turknett Leadership Character Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Service Above Self Award given by the Atlanta Rotary. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians and was admitted to the Hall of Fame of Influential Georgians.
He was past president of the Telephone Pioneers of America, one of the world’s largest volunteer associations of industrial employees. He was a past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and also a member of the Orange Bowl Committee and the Florida Council of 100.
Frank Skinner was a man with a deep faith and a love for the church. He was an active member and an Elder at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.
Frank was defined by his unwavering integrity, by his strong work ethic, and by his heart for serving others. He loved words, both spoken and written, and had the gift of using them to inspire, to motivate, to teach and to encourage.
Frank’s excellence in the community and business sector was legendary but it was his role as husband, father, and grandfather that was exceptional.
He showered his family with his immeasurable love, with his abundant wisdom and his unending generosity and with his delightful sense of humor. His blue eyes twinkled with warmth and kindness. He was happiest when “all of the feet were under the dining room table”.
Frank Skinner was predeceased by his wife Ruth Ann and by his daughter Lisa.
He is survived by his daughters Ruthanne Suttles and Christian Kirkland and his son-in-law John Kirkland.
He is also survived by his grandchildren Mackenzie and Molly Suttles and Tyler, John, and McKay Kirkland. Memorial contributions may be made to the Music Ministry of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.
A memorial service will be held at Peachtree Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. followed by a celebration reception in the Williams Center.