Res Skinner

Rex Skinner and his great-grandson

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Being the Grand Marshall of the Bear Lake County Fair Parade is something Rex Skinner never anticipated nor aspired to achieve. It was so far off his radar that the Fair Board took two years to convince Rex’s wife of 53 years, Nancy, to tell him that he would do it. In 2020, Nancy promptly told the Fair Board secretary that Rex wouldn’t agree to be Grand Marshall. The call came again in 2021 and Nancy was advised the Fair Board would still like to have Rex. Rex protests he doesn’t know why he was chosen and that while he’s fine talking one-on-one, crowds are not his thing.

That aversion to groups may partially explain Rex’s choice of profession. He spent time with Montpelier City Police Department on a temporary basis, when he roamed the business district to check locks and report any suspicious activity. Those strolls around town were alone time and mostly during the midnight shift. When the City asked he go full-time with their police force, he agreed. Even so, they understood if he was hired by the Idaho State Police where he had already applied, he would go. And go he did, into POST training then two years on patrol in Pocatello and another 5.5 years in Malad. That’s when an opportunity came for him to

return to Montpelier and Bear Lake. There had been some hesitancy in assigning him to his home territory because of his family connections. “If that’s a problem,” he told his supervisor, “I’ll be the first one to ask for a transfer.” He hypothesizes his taciturn reputation may have been generated by his studious conformance to regulations, no matter the infraction or the person. All told, he spent 30 years settling the trooper’s hat squarely on his head in the morning and driving the highways alone for the majority of his day.

As with any position, there were good and bad days but Rex recalls very few when he didn’t enjoy being an Idaho State trooper. His fondest memory involved a couple with a “passel” of children, one of whom was inadvertently left at a gas station in McCammon during the melee to move on. Rex reunited the child with his grateful family soon thereafter. The worst times were the fatal accidents when he had the wrenching duty to deliver death notifications. “Much of an officer’s work is negative and it taxes you,” he lamented. “But I would come home and unwind then be ready for the next day.” Gathering facts at accident scenes was one of his tasks and that exercise sometimes led to citations even though he hated writing tickets. The citations could lead to disputes in court on occasion too. Rex recalls testifying in a case where the opposing attorney grilled him relentlessly, to the point his patience evaporated and his answers became, “I don’t remember.” “Sometimes,” Rex said with a raised brow, “You can get to the point where you don’t like people.”

After leaving the ISP, Rex kicks back with a smile to recount finally landing the job for which he had always searched – the one where he only had to put in two days a week. Georgetown City needed help slowing traffic because they clocked a semi barreling through at 83 mph and a car jetted by at 96 mph. He said just being present in the community helped to curtail the speedsters.

During his years in the valley, he has raised cows and alfalfa, served two terms on the School Board, been a member of the County Planning and Zoning Commission, and was a director of the Peg Leg Irrigation Company for quite a few years. He was also a member of the Bear Lake Rangers. He and Nancy thoroughly enjoyed the Rangers even though Rex worried his working hours kept him from spending as much time on their service projects as he would have liked. The farm is now sold to their two boys who live nearby. “They let me supervise and sometimes swath and bale since they have full-time jobs.

There’s too much to do it all on weekends. I fill in when I can.”

It is that cooperative spirit that Rex carried with him into his civic duties as well. As a member of the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission, his procedure was to listen to the applicant’s and public’s comments, discuss the issue with fellow commission members and express an opinion, voting with his conscience. Afterward, he stressed that it was important that everyone, regardless of a prior opinion or vote, come together to support the decision made by the majority. As to his stint as a director for the Peg Leg Irrigation Company, his perspective is that, “There are two things farmers fight over: fences and water. In the winter, we get along fine. In the summer, it’s a little more colorful.”

Nancy and Rex raised their six children in their Dingle home and their gatherings are now supplemented with as many as 21 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, with another due in September. “A prolific little group, aren’t we,” he grinned. Nancy enjoyed 25 years in Bear Lake County’s court offices or driving a bus while working at Tri-State Bank. She will continue as Rex’s ardent support at the Fair Parade even though she is not any more comfortable with the limelight than Rex. But duty calls and they will put on their hats and climb in the car. Just as Rex has always done.

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