Grady Stephen Skaggs, 93, of Adrian, Texas, died Saturday, September 9, 2023.
A baby was born in Oldham County, Texas, in the cold winter of 1930. This note was pinned on his cotton gown: “Please care for this boy or take him to someone who will. His birthday is February 14. God, please help this boy and forgive me for leaving him with You.”
A childless couple living in Adrian, John Taylor Skaggs and Gradye Bastian Skaggs, were overjoyed to adopt the baby. They named him Grady Stephen – Grady in honor of his adoptive mother, and Stephen as a tribute to several men in John’s family who shared that name. Despite years of silence around his adoption, Grady considered John and Gradye his one and only parents, both of whom he treasured and adored.
Grady attended school in Adrian and amassed a number of good friends, all of whom preceded him in death: Norriene Jacobson Garrison, Burt Speed, Betty Jo Thuett Hacker, Robert Jacobson, just to name a few. After graduating from Adrian High School in 1948, Grady first journeyed to Arlington State College (now The University of Texas at Arlington), and, after two years in Arlington, he transferred to Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) where he enrolled in the Corps of Cadets. Grady graduated from Texas A&M in 1952 as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and was conferred with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Sciences in 1953.
Grady’s role in The Army led him to Korea in early 1953, where he first served as a 2nd Lieutenant on the front lines of the 38th Parallel. He subsequently was promoted to an intelligence officer, serving as a 1st Lieutenant. The Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953, but Grady continued his service in Korea through 1955. He was awarded The Bronze Star, Korean Service Medal, and United Nations Service Medal.
After his discharge from The Army, Grady returned to Texas where he launched his career as a landman with Shamrock Oil in Amarillo.
After a few years of searching for oil and gas sites throughout North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, Grady met the love of his life, Nancy Sue Moore, whom Grady married on July 25, 1958. A few years later, after tiring of a nomadic life as an oil and gas landman (despite hitting some big gushers!), Grady and Nancy moved to Adrian where they built their own home, birthed and raised four children, farmed, and engaged deeply in their civic and spiritual communities.
Grady provided a wonderful life for his family as a husband and father. He absolutely adored Nancy, the joy of his life, celebrating an exceptional marriage with her for more than 64 years. As a child of the Great Depression, Grady’s thriftiness was somewhat unrivaled. Nevertheless, he set a pattern of generosity beyond imagination, graciously and lovingly supporting his children in their higher education endeavors and continuing to provide financial and emotional support over the years as circumstances dictated.
Not only was Grady a leader within The Army and among his family, he was also a tremendous civic leader, including serving on the Adrian City Council, Adrian ISD School Board, Adrian Lion’s Club, Boy Scouts Troop Leader, Adrian Methodist Church Administrative Board, Oldham County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Oldham County Commissioner’s Court.
Grady had multiple interests, which made for an interesting life for both him and his family. Those favorite hobbies included: vegetable gardening; fly fishing; woodworking; slowly smoking meats; travel; football, most particularly Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys; baseball, especially the Texas Rangers; and concocting sauerkraut and hogshead cheese (the latter much to the utter distress of his entire family).
Grady was an exceptionally kind and sweet man. In their final years, Alzheimer’s Disease created a fog of confusion and chaos for Nancy; yet, despite all the hardships, Grady remained sweet and loving to Nancy to the end, treating her constantly as his Beloved. Grady once said that Nancy was the most wonderful wife he could ever have hoped to have and that he was determined to support her until her dying day. And, ultimately, he fulfilled this vow, holding Nancy’s hand as she died.
Grady’s final act of bravery was to decide that he was no longer able to live at home alone, though this was a hard thing for him to admit. Thus, as many of you know, he checked himself into the Ussery-Roan Texas State Veterans Home – Amarillo, knowing that it was the best place for him at that moment in his life.
Grady will be remembered deeply by his family. Surviving him are his four children: Stephen Skaggs and his spouse, Jay Kleine, of Austin; Susan Skaggs of Dallas; Raymond Skaggs and his wife, Betty, of Adrian, and their son, Joshua, and his wife, Haylee, of Vega along with their children (Grady’s great grandchildren), Brooklyn and Jarrett; and Thomas Skaggs and his wife, René, of Eatonville, Washington, and their daughters, Taylor and Avery. Grady’s niece and nephews by Nancy, Mary Ellen Fine, James Tomberlin, Jr. and Joseph Tomberlin, and their collective children also survive Grady.
Funeral arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors. The Skaggs Family will hold a visitation on Monday, September 18, at Adrian Methodist Church, from 10-10:30 a.m., followed by a memorial service beginning at 11:00 a.m. A graveside service will follow thereafter at Memorial Park Cemetery in Vega, where Grady will be laid to eternal rest beside his cherished Nancy.
Farewell thy beloved father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, friend, brave hero, honorable veteran, and disciple of Christ, Grady Skaggs. You shall remain forever in our hearts.
And, God, thank you for taking care of Grady as his birth mother pleaded with you on that cold February day in 1930. Her wishes certainly came true.