Joan Juanell Byrd Skidmore was born February 10, 1934, in Plains, Texas, the daughter of Lee Ollie and Bertha Hatchett Greenfield. At the time, the family lived on a Yoakum County ranch, where her father was a working cowboy.
When she was a young age, the family moved to Brownfield, where Juanell attended public schools, graduating from Brownfield High School in 1951, where she played oboe in the high school band. It also was in Brownfield that she began piano lessons and became an accomplished pianist.
Her musical talent earned her a scholarship to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, where she began training to become a concert pianist. That plan was interrupted however, when she met a dashing fellow student and track star, Roy Tom Byrd, whom she married January 19, 1953.
Since Roy was studying to become a teacher and coach, Juanell switched her major to education, eventually leading to a 32½- year teaching career that included 31 years in Killeen, most of those teaching fifth grade at Clifton Park Elementary School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Howard Payne in January 1953 with a major in elementary education and a minor in music.
Prior to moving to Killeen in 1965, she taught in Gorman, Comanche and Sidney, exciting experiences in which she taught children of migrant workers and used her music ability to stage a musical production in the small, rural Sidney school.
In Killeen, she taught one year at Meadows Elementary School while Clifton Park Elementary was being built. She then joined the Clifton Park staff and remained there until she retired in 1995.
In 1970, tragedy struck when Roy Tom Byrd, who was principal of Rancier Junior High School in Killeen, drowned while on an outing at Lake Brownwood, where the family had a cabin. Roy left not only a wife, but two young children, Tom Douglas Byrd and Barbara Stephanie Byrd.
Juanell quickly mastered the task of being a single parent, even coaching her son's Little League basketball team. She continued her studies, receiving a Master of Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin in August 1970.
On July 10, 1976, Juanell married her next-door neighbor, Gerald D. Skidmore Sr., who also had been widowed two years before. She gained three more children, Gerald Skidmore Jr., Jonathan Skidmore and Martha Skidmore. Under her care, the family quickly melded into the "Byrd-Skidmore clan."
Juanell received a number of awards, including the prestigious Outstanding Teaching of Humanities Award, given by the Texas Committee for the Humanities. She was the Killeen Council of PTA "Teacher of of the Year" in 1987, Killeen Rotary Club "Teacher of the Month" in 1991, and Clifton Park's "Employee of the Month."
She was active in the Killeen and Texas Classroom Teachers associations and was a member of the Texas State Teachers Association; the Killeen Retired Teachers Association; the Vive Les Arts Societe, serving on the board; the Killeen High School Band Boosters Club and Phi Delta Kappa national education honor society.
A member of the Longhorn Chapter of the American Business Women's Association, she served as secretary and on various committees, receiving that organization's "Woman of the Year" award in 1977-78.
She became a member of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in 1964, serving as a member of the choir and on the Altar Guild.
Preceding her in death were her husband, Roy Tom Byrd; her parents; a brother, L. O. Greenfield Jr.; and a sister. Dorothy Phillips.
Survivors are her husband, Gerald D. Skidmore Sr. of Killeen; three sons, Gerald D. Skidmore Jr. and wife, Linda, of Killeen; Jonathan B. Skidmore and wife Lisa, Dallas; and Dr. Tom Byrd and wife Sue of Brownwood; two daughters, Martha Skidmore Heckathorn and husband Jeff of Harker Heights and Stephanie Byrd-Lee and husband Byron of New Orleans, Louisiana.
She is survived by 14 grandchildren: Christy Skidmore Galloway and husband Travis, Fort Belvoir, Va.; Elizabeth Skidmore Chapman and husband Pete, Dallas; James B. Skidmore and wife McKenzie, Dallas; Matthew Skidmore, Dallas; Jonathan A. Skidmore, Dallas; Dr. Tom Byrd and wife Sue, Brownwood; Roy Tom Byrd and wife Lindsay, San Antonio; Shelby Byrd, Brownwood; Sara Byrd, Brownwood; Molly Heckathorn, Harker Heights; Samantha Heckathorn, Harker Heights; Lauren Heckathorn, Harker Heights; Vivian Lee, New Orleans, La.; Carolyn Lee, New Orleans, La., Byron R. M. Lee, New Orleans, La., and one great-granddaughter, Lily Jane Galloway of Fort Belvoir, Va..
Grandsons and grandsons-in-law will serve as pallbearers.
The Skidmore family will receive guests for a time of Visitation from 6 until 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home of Killeen. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Killeen beginning at 10:30 a.m. A private burial will follow the services.
Memorials may be made to the Disabled American Veterans at 3725 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring, KY 41076.
Please share condolences with the Skidmore family by visiting www.crawfordbowersfuneralhome.com