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Gwynne Lynette Skinner

July 17, 1964 - December 11, 2017

Gwynne Skinner was born in Des Moines, Iowa, July 17, 1964, and died December 11, 2017, from complication of ovarian cancer, with which she lived with dignity for nearly 5 years.  Gwynne spent most of her childhood in Colfax, Iowa.  She especially enjoyed spending time with her siblings, cousins, and at her grandparents’ acreage on the edge of town, eating homemade ice cream and fresh watermelon, feeding lambs by the bottle, and playing with her cousins.  Her father was a music teacher, and then a school administrator, moving the family to several small towns in Iowa, including Shelby, Melvin, and Sac City, from where she graduated high school.  She went on to study at the University of Northern Iowa, where she was executive editor of the college newspaper, and then to the University of Iowa where she earned her law degree.

 

Gwynne spent time working in politics as a paid staffer for the Iowa Democratic Party, the presidential campaign of Bruce Babbitt, and on senate and congressional campaigns. Her first job out of law school was with the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Criminal Division, in Washington, D.C.  She went on to practice as a local prosecutor, and then various private practice firms.  She founded the Public Interest Law Group in Seattle, Washington. After receiving an advanced law degree from Oxford University in International Human Rights Law, Gwynne became a visiting professor of law at Seattle University before joining the law faculty of Willamette University, where she founded and directed the Human Rights and Refugee Law Clinic.  Over her career, Gwynne litigated several high profile cases, representing former Guantanamo Bay detainees in cutting-edge civil cases for their illegal detention and torture, the family of Rachel Corrie against Caterpillar for aiding and abetting human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and a class of Somali workers against a large sausage company for religious accommodation, among others.  She also took the quiet cases that made a difference in people’s lives, such as representing those seeking asylum or facing discrimination. Gwynne loved being a professor and teaching and inspiring a new generation of lawyers how to advocate for the human rights of all.

Gwynne was a steadfast, loyal, and generous friend and mentor to many. She was an excellent, compassionate listener and counselor. As a colleague and leader, she inspired countless professionals and students who hope to carry on her brave legacy. Her advocacy was not only courageous, but visionary. She initiated and co-directed the first state-wide human rights report on human trafficking in the United States, which led to a follow-up report on trafficking of Native American women and children in Oregon. Her tenacity, bright spirit, keen intellect, passion, and loving attention will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

 

Gwynne is survived by her spouse, Dr. Beth Skrypzak of Portland, her two beloved daughters, Lucy, 16 and Ella Skrypzak, 12; her mother Joy Skinner (Wichita), her four siblings, Brenda Lyttle (John) of Cheyenne, Susan Skinner of Los Angeles, Steven Skinner (Mary Frances) of Wichita, and Jill Skinner of Phoenix; and several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

 

A viewing will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 10:00-1:00 at Holman’s Funeral Home, 2610 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland, Oregon.

 

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, January 13, 2018 from 10-11:00 followed by a Celebration of Life from 11-1:00 at St Andrew Church, 806 NE Alberta Ave.

 

Tax-deductible contributions can be made in her memory to:

SOAR (Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees) Immigration Services in Portland, OR.

http://emoregon.org/soar.php

Or to

Immigration and Counseling Services

http://ics-law.org

                                    DONATIONS TO IMMIGRATION COUNSELING SERVICE

                                                IN MEMORY OF GWYNNE L. SKINNER

Gwynne has been a powerful force for justice and a key ally in the struggle to bring access to justice to our most marginalized members of society. ICS is Oregon’s only free-standing, nonprofit law firm representing immigrants in Oregon, and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018.  ICS was founded on the principles Gwynne consistently fought for – access to justice for all, and she asked that donations be made to ICS in her name.

ICS also has Oregon’s only nonprofit program providing legal services for unaccompanied minors – those children under the age of 18 apprehended at the border by ICE and put in detention, and the only full time program for victims of human trafficking. ICS also has been recognized by the Pride Foundation for several years as an important resource for LGBTQ immigrants.

Gwynne has been instrumental in working with ICS to help obtain legal representation for children who “age out” of the program at 18, but yet who are extraordinarily vulnerable and in need of assistance. Her passion, dedication to her work, inspiration provided to her students, and collaborative efforts have helped numerous people obtain the legal status to which they are entitled.  ICS is proud to be among those collaborators and friends who have counted Gwynne as a colleague and an inspiration. Her dedication and generosity have been invaluable.

Opportunities to donate in Gwynne’s name will be acknowledged, and will be used to support ICS’s ongoing work in representing immigrants, their families, victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied minors. The attached Giving Opportunities sheet provides an illustration of the difference your support makes.

Donations may be sent to:

Immigration Counseling Service (ICS)             or online through Paypal or Credit Card:

ATTN: Rita Ombaka                                     http://ics-law.org/why-help.php

519 SW Park Avenue, Suite 610

Portland, OR 97205

PLEASE BE SURE TO INDICATE YOUR GIFT IS IN HONOR OF GWYNNE, and include full name and address so we can send a confirmation. If you contribute online, please send a confirming email noting your gift is in honor of Gwynne to [email protected], and include your full name and address. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Lisa LeSage, Executive Director, at 503.221.1689 ext 2103 or Rita Ombaka, 503.221.1689 ext. 2111.

 

Service Information

Service Information

Date: Saturday, January 13, 2018

Time: 10:00 am

St. Andrew Catholic Church

Address:

806 NE Alberta Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97211

A viewing will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 10:00-1:00 at Holman’s Funeral Home, 2610 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland, Oregon.

 

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, January 13, 2018 from 10-11:00 followed by a Celebration of Life from 11-1:00 at St Andrew Church, 806 NE Alberta Ave.


Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017

Time: 10:00 am

End Time: 01:00 pm

Holman's Funeral & Cremation Service

Address:

2610 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97214

A viewing will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 10:00-1:00 at Holman’s Funeral Home, 2610 SE Hawthorne Blvd in Portland, Oregon.

 

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, January 13, 2018 from 10-11:00 followed by a Celebration of Life from 11-1:00 at St Andrew Church, 806 NE Alberta Ave.


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