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Brig. Gen. Ralph A. Skowron, M.D.
(06/16/1929 - 01/12/2013)
Ralph A. Skowron, M.D.
Promiment South Jersey opthamologist, retired commander of the Delaware Air National Guard, astronaut-candidate and member of the Electoral College, died January 12, 2013 in his home in New Hampshire, surrounded by family.
Ralph A. Skowron M.D., 83, of Moultonboro, NH, passed quietly and peacefully into Eternal Life, from home, on January 12, 2013, with his family gathered around him. He was the beloved husband of Marie, to whom he was married for 60 years. He was a communicant at St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church, in Meredith, NH.
Dr. Skowron lived a life dedicated to his family, to medicine, and to his country. He excelled at each.
Ralph graduated from high school in Collingswood, NJ. In 2006 he was proudly inducted into the Collingswood High School Hall of Fame, receiving their Lifetime Achievement Award. He recently attended his 65-year reunion.
He earned his B.S. from Villanova College, then attended Dickinson Law School. After receiving his M.D. degree from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, Dr. Skowron served residencies at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine, at Philadelphia General Hospital, and at Temple University, specializing in ophthalmology. He opened his private ophthalmology practice 50 years ago, in Cherry Hill, NJ. Eye Associates, P.A. later grew to five offices with several physicians, serving much of South Jersey. He was devoted to and beloved by many patients.
Dr. Skowron was Chief of Ophthalmology at West Jersey Hospital for 18 years, he also held that position at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Wm. B. Kessler Memorial Hospital, Cherry Hill Medical Center, Elmer Community Hospital, and Camden County General Hospital. At Kessler Memorial Hospital Dr. Skowron also served as Chief of Surgery, was Medical Staff President, and was on their Board of Trustees. He was a long-standing leader of the West Jersey Medical Society, serving as President, and, for 19 years, on their Board of Trustees. He served the Camden County Medical Society in many roles, including President.
In the mid-1950s, Ralph became a licensed pilot, and was commissioned in the Air Force. Following two years on Active Duty, he maintained a lifelong affiliation with the military. Dr. Skowron studied ophthalmic pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, then honed leadership skills at the Air Command and Staff College, and later, at the Air War College. He first served the Delaware Air National Guard as Clinic Commander, then as State Air Surgeon. In 1976 he was promoted to Brigadier General, and, as Assistant Adjutant General for Air, commanded the Delaware Air National Guard for more than 12 years. He was an Air Force Chief Flight Surgeon for 30 years.
General Skowron was the first recipient of the Outstanding Air National Guard Flight Surgeon of the Year award. He was a founding member and President of the Alliance of Air National Guard Flight Surgeons, and was a long-term member of their Executive Board. Ralph was proud to be a member of the Legion de Lafayette, he was a Life Member of the Air Force Association, the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, the Society of Air Force Flight Surgeons, the Alliance of Air National Guard Flight Surgeons, and of the National Guard Association of the United States. He retired from the military as a Major General.
Dr. Skowron was considered for astronaut training for the Apollo missions. He was summoned to NASA in Houston, and was interviewed by Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell. He qualified, except for his age – he would have been just over 40 (then the limit) by the time he finished astronaut training. This remained his one regret.
Ralph’s love of flying extended to the civilian sphere. He was a FAA Class 1 Aviation Medical Examiner for 50 years. An instrument rated pilot, he was a member of numerous civilian aviation organizations, including the Aviation Advisory Council of New Jersey. He was a charter member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, and frequently attended the annual EAA Oshkosh convention.
After retiring to New Hampshire, Dr. Skowron returned frequently to NJ to see former patients in nursing homes and military hospitals. He also continued his Aviation Medical Examiner service. Ralph especially enjoyed family, camping, landscaping, flying his antique private plane, and woodworking. He became an avid auction shopper, and was involved with local church charities.
He never forgot his roots: The son of a Polish immigrant butcher, he shared his father’s fierce allegiance to the United States. Grateful for the opportunities this country provided, he extended anonymous help to many in need. In 1972, Dr. Skowron was a member of the Electoral College, casting his vote for President Richard Nixon. . A 15’ x 25’ American flag was always flown proudly from a specially-ordered 45-foot flagpole at his home, he often wished it were larger.
In addition to his wife, Marie (neeTatem), Dr. Skowron is survived by his four children and their spouses: Ralph D. Skowron, M.D. (Julia) of Hortonville, WI, Marie Perrone (Joseph) of Mount Laurel, NJ, Patricia Temple (Phillip) of Colorado Springs, CO, and Annette Araje (Derek) of Monument, CO. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, who always held a special place in his heart: Marie Maurizio (Randall) of Ambler, PA, Dr. Joseph Perrone (Tamra) of Pittsburgh, PA, Katherine Perrone of Fredericksburg, VA, Sharon Perrone of Arlington, VA, and Kevin, Christina, Diana, and Carolyn Araje of Monument, CO. Also surviving are his brother, Charles A. Skowron, M.D., of Grosse Pointe Park, MI., and many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Anthony and Veronica (nee Bernotas), and by his brother, Anthony.
Funeral services were held on Thursday, January 17th, at St. Charles Borromeo R. C. Church, in Meredith, NH.
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