Tami Jo Nix/Madera Tribune File Photo
Retired Madera police chief and mayor Gordon Skeels celebrates his 80th birthday in Dec. 2015 at Cedar Creek, surrounded by members and former members of the force, from left, Sgt. Thomas Burns, Police Chief Steve Frazier, Mayor Robert Poythress, Superior Court Judge Hon. Michael Jurkovich, Officer J.C. Gaona and retired Capt. Steve Detjen. Skeels died Wednesday in Madera.
After a lifetime of public service to Madera, retired Madera Police Chief Gordon Erwin Skeels, 84, died on Jan. 23, 2019, in Madera.
The son of Clarence and Ruth Vingee Skeels of Palmyra, New York, Gordon Skeels was born Dec. 9, 1935. He earned a bachelor of science degree in criminology from Fresno State and joined the Madera Police Department in the early 1960s.
He moved through the various ranks of the department from sergeant to captain, skipping over the rank of lieutenant.
In 1960, he was instrumental in helping found the Madera Police Officers Association under the direction of Chief Horace Dowell.
“The MPOA is our union, it negotiates our contracts and works for the betterment of the department,” according to Madera Police Chief Dino Lawson.
He also served as president of the MPOA, said Lawson.
The association’s public outreach sponsors Little League, Bobby Sox and Babe Ruth baseball teams, he said.
Utilizing a federal grant for which Chief Skeels applied, the City of Madera was able to build a then-state-of-the-art police station next door to City Hall at 203 West 4th St. in 1978.
Skeels remained with the City of Madera until his retirement. At one point, he served not only as chief of police but also acting city administrator for about a year until the city was able to find a permanent replacement. After retirement, he served on the Madera City Council and as Mayor.
He loved the people of Madera and enjoyed trying to make this part of the world a better place to live and rear families.
Chief Skeels was preceded in death by his wife, Carole June Dotson Skeels, infant twin son Calvin, sister, Eleanor Van Delinder and brother, Lester Skeels.
He is survived by his daughters, Pamela Moore and husband Dale of Sealy, Texas; Sherili Jones and husband Chris of Las Vegas; Phyllis Waechtler and husband Joey of Magna, Utah; Terri Carr and husband John of Battlefield, Mo.; Jamie Myers of Madera; Claudia Griffin and husband Todd of Heber City, Utah; brother, Dean Skeels, of New York; 20 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at Jay Chapel, 1121 Roberts Ave., with services at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2112 Sunset Ave., Madera, with burial to follow at Arbor Vitae Cemetery, 1301 Roberts Ave. Madera.