Cover photo for Gary A. Skinner's Obituary
1980 Gary 2023

Gary A. Skinner

June 30, 1980 — July 6, 2023

Niles, Michigan


Gary Alan Skinner, age 43 years of Niles, Michigan; husband, father, son, brother, die-hard Cubs fan, and tattoo enthusiast died Thursday evening, July 6, 2023 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana following a motor vehicle accident.  His family is grateful for the efforts of the first responders and the emergency department staff.

He was born on June 30, 1980 in Berrien Center, Michigan to James L. Skinner and Marilyn L. (Banish) Skinner, and graduated from Niles High School.  He has been a professional cook all of his life, working in several area restaurants including The Tavern on the westside at Lincoln and Brookwood where he made the best burgers in Niles.  He also worked for many years at Pizza Transit beginning on Eleventh Street and then following them downtown, including covering a shift on the day before his accident.

Gary was well-known for his brightly colored tattoos which perfectly matched his bright personality, always ready to be a part of a conversation, and willing to  fill-in quiet gaps as the designated talker.  That personality also included dropping whatever he was doing to go and help anybody, offering encouragement, and quick to lift and carry anything.  His positive personality likely helped him to be an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, traveling to Chicago when he could, but often enjoyed attending the South Bend Cubs games with family and friends. As an avid concertgoer, music was an important part of Gary’s life. He recently took his oldest daughter to her first concert, which he had looked forward to since the day she was born. It was his family – and especially his daughters - who were always the greatest priority in his life.

On May 12, 2007 he married his anchor, Sarah Marie Harpole. He and his “penguin” flew off to New Orleans, Louisiana to get married in Jackson Square Park, between the Cathedral and the Mississippi River; an elopement that didn’t really surprise anyone, and certainly raised no objections.

Surviving family includes his wife, Sarah Skinner and their daughters, Molly Araya Skinner and Addison Judith Skinner; Gary’s parents, Marilyn Burdue of Niles and Jim (& Vicky) Skinner of Niles; Sarah’s parents, Pastors Everett and Patricia Harpole of Saint Joseph, Michigan; Gary's siblings Jonny (& Ryan) Skinner of South Bend, and Lisa Banish of Phoenix, Arizona; Sarah's siblings, whom Gary considered his siblings as well, Laura (& Mike) Stover of Buchanan, Michigan, Jason (& Sharla) Harpole of Portage, Michigan, and Sarah Myles of Chicago, Illinois. He also leaves behind several nieces and nephews, and an army of friends.

A Celebration of Gary’s Life is A Celebration of Gary's Life will take place on Sunday, July 23 from 3-6pm at The Rage (219 N. Front St. Niles). A meal will be served. Please bring a memory with you to share with Gary's family.  Contributions in memory of Gary may be made to a scholarship fund for Molly and Addison, A special bank account has been set up for this purpose. You may donate online at . Donation envelopes will also be available at Gary's Celebration of Life.  Arrangements are being made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles.   Online condolences may be left at:

Gary’s life feels as if it was too, too short, but he used his years well, always caring for everyone he met, being loved by all, and aptly described as “the realest person” you’ve ever met.

“My angel, my anchor, my star.”

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gary A. Skinner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, July 23, 2023

3:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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