John Skinner

John Skinner

MADISON/MIDDLETON-John Skinner, age 93, of Madison, left this world after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease on Sunday, July 2, 2017.

John was born on his parent’s farm in Nebraska and spent his first night in a hospital at age 77. He was an only child. John inherited a love of fancy poultry at the age of four, when his father gave him a pair of pure-bred Buff Cochin Bantams. This led to a fascination for avian life and he later pursued it as a career resulting in his being inducted into the American Poultry Hall of Fame, the youngest person to be so honored. He met his future wife, Jean, in front of his chicken display at a fair in Nebraska in 1940 and they were married four years later. John served in the Army Air Corps in WWII and was in on the securing of Iwo Jima. This gave him access to the GI Bill enabling him to get two college degrees.

John experienced period of industry employment followed by faculty positions at Texas A&M College, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Wisconsin. John’s goal early in life was to be a licensed poultry judge which he achieved in 1953, the youngest person to hold a general license. He joined the Poultry Science Dept. at the University of Wisconsin in 1963. He was awarded a full professorship in 1967. In 1971, he became the country’s first designated Poultry and Small Animal Specialist. John participated in the writing of 18 books, numerous journal articles, and educational and 4-H publications. He served on many organizations, advisory panels, and committees. Because of his early recognition of the society’s effect on commercial agriculture, he was frequently asked to speak at industries, organizations and conventions, including organizing the first symposium on poultry industry waste management. He retired as Emeritus Professor in 1985. He was a member and licensed Judge of the American Poultry Assn., the American Bantam Assn., Poultry Science Assn., World Poultry Science Assn., Life member and Lifetime Director of the American Poultry Historical Society, and a member of the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust. He was elected into the American Poultry Hall of Fame and a Fellow in the Poultry Science Assn.

John and Jean lived in Middleton for many years and were very active in their community. In 2010, he was awarded a Proclamation by the City of Middleton and in 2003 they were recipients of the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival Award. John was a charter member of the Middleton Historical Society and served as director from 1986 to 2006, (seven years as President). They enjoyed extensive foreign travel, giving John the opportunity to research his writing for foreign poultry publishers, expand his collection of automotive toys, and add to their collections of poultry oriented material.

John is survived by his two devoted and loving children and their spouses, John Jr. (Delphine) Skinner of Madison and Jan (Jeff) Lynn of Marine of St. Croix, Minn. He was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Jean, and his three grandchildren, Deborah Skinner, Jaime Lynn, and Jenna Lynn.

A Memorial Gathering will be held at GUNDERSON WEST FUNERAL & CREMATION CARE, 7435 University Ave., Middleton at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, 2017. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Middleton Area Historical Society, 7410 Hubbard Ave., Middleton, WI 53562.

The family would like to express a special thank you to the dedicated staff at Oak Park Place Assisted Living on Jupiter Drive, Madison and to Heartland HospiceCare of Madison.

Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson WestFuneral & Cremation Care
7435 University Avenue