Lu left on her last flight June 19, 2022, from Fairfax, OK with crew standing by.
Lu was born February 28, 1938 in Ponca City, OK. She was the eldest child of Wayne and Delores Thomas Kothe. Grandparents were Harry and Ethel Looper Kothe; Charles Thomas and Mary Gilbert Roesner.
She graduated Ponca City High School in 1955 and immediately went to work for Southwestern Bell Telephone as an operator. She was also employed by First National Bank, Security Bank and Conoco in Ponca City.
March 29, 1963 she and Grady B. Skillern were married in Ponca City.
Lu loved to fly especially in small planes. So, in 1965 she earned her private pilot's license in a Piper Clipper. Grady and Lu were transferred to Houston in 1987, took retirement there in 1992 and moved to Anahuac, TX. They both became volunteers at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. She often laughed when she told of her most embarrassing "nature" story. Shortly after beginning to volunteer at the Refuge she shared her nature knowledge--
"Every hawk was a chicken hawk and should be shot. Every snake would bite you
so take a shovel to it".
The Refuge staff person laughingly replied “we have a lot of work to do with you”. They did an excellent job. Lu's e-mail signature was a quote by Albert Schweitzer "Respect for life, life of all kinds, is the first principle of civilization"
She was a founding member of the Friends of Anahuac Refuge, served on their Board of Directors for 10 years, developed an Outdoor Environmental Education Program that over 1,000 Chambers County school children, grades K-5, annually attended on the Refuge. She also managed the F.O.A.R. Nature Store for several years before moving back to Ponca City.
Shortly after Grady's death in 2005 the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored Grady and Lu for their volunteer work by naming a site on the Refuge the Skillern Tract.
Lu returned home in 2006 where she was a co-leader of a youth birding group, Bird Buddies, participated in the Kaw Lake Association "Ultimate Eagle Watch", Fall Festival and Outdoor Expo events for many years.
Besides birdwatching, Lu was also an avid gardener of native plants to entice birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
April 10, 2010 she and Les Keeler were married in Ponca City. They shared a lot of love, laughter and living in their short time together, before Lester passed away in October, 2021.
Her parents, grandparents and brother, Sidney Kothe, preceded her in death.
She is survived by two sisters, Teresa Kothe Reif of Oklahoma City and Karen Kothe King McKenney of Pawhuska; a brother, Larry Kothe and Margie of Ponca City; two daughters; Caren Skillern Reiman, Sandi Skillern Fadler and David, all of Tulsa; several grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11a.m., Friday, July 1, 2022 in the Hunsaker Wooten Funeral Home Chapel, 201 N. 4th Street, Fairfax, Okla. with Pastor Russ Hughes presiding. Condolences may be expressed to Lu’s family online at www.hunsakerwootenfuneralhome.com
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Friends of Anahuac Refuge:
PO Box 1348
Anahuac, TX 77514
F. O. A. R.
PO BOX 1348, ANAHUAC TX 77514