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Date of Passing: Apr 19, 2016

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REGINALD ROBERT SKENE Reg Skene passed peacefully on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. He was 82 years old. Reg was predeceased by his wife, Annette in 2005. He is lovingly remembered by his five children: Cathy Stephens (Alvin), Rick Skene (Janice), Anita Skene (William Rhoda), Robert Skene (Kirk Williams), Craig Skene (Maria Pavao-Skene); and by his grandchildren Daniel (Jenny), Sean, William, Brett (Danielle), Leanne, Bradley, step great-granddaughter Kalia and brand new great-granddaughter Brooklyn Annette. His grandson William recounts the special relationship Reg had with his grandchildren: "Reg was a pillar in his grandchildren's lives from the day of their birth to the point of his passing. Forever ready with sage advice and open ears, his unconditional love and absolute absence of judgment allowed him to transcend generations and foster a friendship with his grandchildren in a way that few grandparents could." The family would also like to especially thank Reg's friends Brian Bjorklund and Norm Matthews, whose unending love and support for Reg through good times and tough times has shown us the true meaning of lifelong friendship. Born in Oxdrift, Ontario, Reg remained intensely proud of his Northwestern Ontario roots. Tom and Alta, Bill and Lil, Aunt Olive and family always had a special place in his heart. He would puff with pride at the mention of his nephews Jack, Dale, Bill, Blair, and Calvin. Reg was also very close to Annette's large extended family whose continual messages of support and love for him were greatly appreciated. Aside from his rich and appreciated life as a husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Reg was a devoted teacher and scholar. He wrote an important and influential book on the plays of the Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats. His doctoral thesis focused on the history of professional theatre in Winnipeg. This intellectual depth was often reflected in his theatre reviews for the Winnipeg Free Press and the CBC. He was hired in 1966 by United College to teach a single drama course and work to create a theatre department. As Director of Theatre, Reg expanded and built that single course into the current fully rounded program that has become the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film. Many of its graduates form the core of Winnipeg's performing arts community and speak fondly of Reg's ready laugh, piercing intellect and eagerly recount the important part he played in helping to propel them into successful, professional careers. This is Reg's true legacy. The passion and wisdom he shared as a teacher lives on in his former students and continues to nurture theatre throughout the country. The family would like to thank the management and staff of River Park Gardens for providing a warm and caring home for Reg in his final difficult year. Reg genuinely loved the kind and attentive staff. As per Reg's wishes, there will be no public memorial service. The immediate family gathered on Friday afternoon for a private service where he was laid to rest beside Annette. In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to make a donation in his memory may do so to: The Reg Skene Award for Emerging Theatre Artist, through the Manitoba Association of Playwrights. Please go to the Canada Helps website: charities/manitoba-association-of- playwrights/#donate_now Or more simply, go hug a teacher.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 23, 2016

Condolences & Memories (15 entries)

  • My condolences go out to Chuck Robinson and Darlene Poplawski on the untimely passing of Mr. Skene. It was nice to participate in the background casting for the filming of the movie Champions starring Woody Harrelson at the Duckworth Centre last month, and I want to thank Rick's sister for her mentorship when I was enrolled in her Dramatic Arts course many years ago. - Posted by: Philip (Educated at Grant Park High School) on: Jan 08, 2022

  • I remember Reg Skene teaching me Improvisation and acting at the U of W. He was a great teacher who cared about his students. I also had the privilege of working on productions directed by him during my three years the university. He was a true genius at getting the best out of people. He would use the technique which would work for that particular student actor. He will be missed by all who knew him. - Posted by: Richard Ditchburn (Student) on: Jul 24, 2016

  • Professor Skene had a profoundly positive effect on countless numbers of students. I was only one of them. His sons who likewise inspired me also drew from that well. I was lucky to have known and learned from Reg. Thanks very much for this chance to express my sympathies to those who will miss him, and my fondness for the man. - Posted by: Benjamin Darvill (Student) on: Apr 24, 2016

  • Reg Skene was my beloved high school English teacher and drama club director. He was a superb teacher and a marvelous human being. His students loved and respected him, in no small measure because of the way he liked and respected each of us. When he entered a classroom, his smile lit up the room. During the extra hours he devoted to drama club, his enthusiasm and support fostered an atmosphere for creativity and friendships to blossom. His warmth and great good humour brought out the best in all of us. Thank you, Mr. Skene, for the example that you set for me and countless others. - Posted by: Carol Bradshaw Raay (former high school student) on: Apr 24, 2016

  • Deepest condolences to all of Rick's family. He was truly an extraordinary, brilliant man, with an enormously generous spirit. I was the first official graduate of the UofW theatre program in 1972. It is impossible to overstate the influence Rick had on me, and the way he enriched my life. Studying under him, learning, working, playing with him was transformative. Even though (sadly) I did not pursue a career in theatre, scarcely a day goes by without me remembering him or drawing on some precious nugget of wisdom or insight he gave me (us). I will remember him always, with love, gratitude, and great joy. What a privilege to have had him in my life. What a wonderful legacy he has left to so many generations. - Posted by: Jane Dick (Student) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • Condolences to all of the Skene family, it is sad time. However,remember all of the best of times as you move forward. - Posted by: Randy Clark (Fort Richmond Collegiate & Pembina Woods Housing Coop) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • My mother, Ena Skene, directed Reg in his first play. During the early 1950s there was a strong Juniour Farmers Club in Oxdrift and each year the club would present a three-act play at the community hall. Reg was about twelve years old and too young to belong to Junior Farmers but he was fascinated by the play and always hung around during the rehearsals. The day before opening night, Bob Wall the lead actor, came down with the measles. My mum was frantic! Nobody else in the club knew the lines or could even come close to performing the part. The performance was doomed! Reg, as usual, was hanging around and sharing in the despair. Ena said: "Reg, do you know all Bob Walls lines?" Reg said: "Yes" She said: "Do you think you could play his role tomorrow night?" Reg said: "Sure!" And the next night he went on stage and without a single rehearsal and, having only learned the lines by watching from the sidelines, he played the part flawlessly! - Posted by: Bob Skene (cousin) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • We were country bumkins, but somehow Reg stood out in the crowd, and especially on the school bus coming home from Dryden High School, he was the intellect...the boy with wit that at our age, we appreciated, but didn't totally comprehend..He was soooo funny!.He has made his positive mark on the lives of many, as he did on us when we were very young friends... His birthday was Feb this day, I remember it. Mine is in May, and I have a photo of the two of us as infants, (maybe a year or so old) sitting in a sand box. We didn't keep in touch, but because I have spend my life in music and art and drama , he has come into my thoughts so many times, and just in the past few days, when I once more looked at the little photo of us....I always asked about him when I spoke with Shirley Hilton.. and wish for his family, Peace and Blessed remembrances... - Posted by: Helen Bruzas (Friend from birth in Oxdrift, all through elementary and High School..) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • Reg showed me a path into the world of the theatre that has served me well over a 40 year career. Thank you Reg and condolences to his family. - Posted by: Ken Neufeld (Student. U of W 1973) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • Reg was the very best kind of teacher. He was brilliant, engaging, funny, but most of all deeply caring and compassionate of all his students, including me. He was a huge inspiration not only in the area of theatre but as an example of how to live. Thank you to his family for sharing him with all of us. I am sorry for your loss. - Posted by: Laura Peters (student) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • "He was silly like us: His gift survived it all." Auden on Yeats. - Posted by: Perry Nodelman (Friend and colleague at U of W) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • I was so lucky to have Reg as a teacher Grades 10-12! He made literature come to life, and was instrumental in driving our drama club from o.k. to incredible. He encouraged us to write and experience theatre, and under his encouragement and guidance, I found an absolute passion for theatre. He was a wonderful teacher as well; all the student liked and respected him whether or not they were good in his subjects. It was wonderful to see him at the high school reunions, although we could tell he wasn't feeling too well at the 50th. Now that he's there, Heaven will be a much more cultured place, with constant skits and productions! And yes, Reg, they'll all give you flowers! - Posted by: (Lorraine) Merryl (Linford) Koenen (student. VMCI 1960-63; ) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • Condolences to the family. - Posted by: David and Valerie Alderson () on: Apr 23, 2016

  • I remember to this day how Dr. Skene never delivered a lecture but acted the entire hour. I looked forward to attending his classes and went on to teaching French Immersion and English for 29 years, being retired now for 10 years. Dr. Skene was truly an inspiration and simply the best. My condolences go out to his family who have lost a gem. - Posted by: Lana Thiessen- Storey (first- year university English 100 student 1966) on: Apr 23, 2016

  • I was one of the fortunate people to be a student in the earliest years of the U of Wpg Drama department. Reg had a huge influence on me. I did not pursue a career in theatre, but his confidence in my abilities has carried me a long way in other endeavours. Thanks for bringing this shy high school kid out of her shell, Reg. - Posted by: Diane Walton (student) on: Apr 23, 2016

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