Frances Skidmore, 89; family owned Tacoma Daily Index

Frances C. Skidmore, the widow of the late Marshall Skidmore, a former owner and publisher of the Tacoma Daily Index,...

Frances C. Skidmore, the widow of the late Marshall Skidmore, a former owner and publisher of the Tacoma Daily Index, passed away earlier this month at the age of 89.

Her death was confirmed this week by her daughter, Marsha Perry, who said Skidmore died of ovarian cancer.

According to an obituary published Sept. 9 in The News Tribune, Skidmore was born in Pateros, Wash., on April 10, 1923. The daughter of an orchardist, she harvested and sold the family’s produce. She attended Washington State University and worked for a few years in Spokane before moving to Tacoma to work as case worker at the Washington State Department of Social and Human Services.

In 1959, she married Marshall and raised two children, Marsha Perry and Robert Skidmore, in Tacoma. When their children were born, she quit working for the state to help Marshall run the Index and raise their children. When Marsha Perry was just a toddler, her mother ran the newspaper for a couple months while her father battled tuberculosis. “Grandma watched me while mom went to work,” Perry recalled. “She did all she could to support him.” After the kids were raised, Frances went back to work as a case worker for the state in Puyallup.

Marshall Skidmore passed away on July 23, 2007, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 83 years old. The Index dates back to 1890, and no one owned the paper longer than Skidmore, who worked at the county clerk’s office and, later, as an outdoor advertising salesman before entering a partnership to co-own the Index in 1960 (he eventually bought out his partner in 1973). In total, he had an ownership stake in the company for 37 years before selling it to Sound Publishing and retiring in 1997.

In an interview with the Index in 2007, shortly after Marshall passed away, Frances recalled meeting Marshall while waterskiing on American Lake with a co-worker. “I wasn’t sure about him,” she recalled. “But I quickly found out he was a straight shooter.”

She also recalled how Marshall made a good wage working in advertising, but didn’t like the job. When an acquaintance at the county clerk’s office approached Marshall with an opportunity to co-own the Index, Skidmore was apprehensive. He and Frances (or “Fran,” as friends called her) were newlyweds and new homeowners, and wanted to raise a family. The venture would require an investment from Skidmore, a cut in pay, and some uncertainty as to whether the paper would continue to operate. That evening, Marshall and Frances discussed the opportunity. Although Frances was equally nervous, she urged Skidmore to take a risk. “I know that your job is not all that you would like. Why don’t we try this?” Frances recalled telling Marshall. When Marshall decided to invest in the Index, Frances’s salary went toward the house payment. It was up to Marshall to earn money working at the paper to help with everyday expenses.

In her retirement, Frances served on the Tacoma Daycare and Preschool Board of Directors. She enjoyed music and following local sports teams, especially the Washington State University Cougars. This spring, Perry traveled with her mother to Pateros for Frances’s 70th high school reunion. As a young woman, Frances was named Miss Pateros. “That scared her to death because she had to ride on this float in Wenatchee,” said Perry. “‘I almost fainted and fell off,’ she told me.”

Frances Skidmore passed away peacefully at her home on Tues., Sept. 4. Survivors include daughter Marsha Perry; son Rev. Robert Skidmore; grandchildren Michael, Emily, and Andrew Skidmore, and Clara, Samuel and Hannah Perry. A memorial service was held on Weds., Sept. 12, at the Mountain View Funeral Home Garden Chapel. Donations may be made to Children’s Home Society, P.O. Box 123, Vaughn, WA 98394.

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