Remembering Skip Athey

More than 65 family and friends remembered “easy going and stubborn” James ‘Skip’ Athey at a memorial service at the Hanford Fraternal Hall.

The long-time local activist died at age 74 on March 2. His memorial was April 7.

“He was a great friend, hardheaded,” said Bob Ramos, another Hanford activist.

Athey would often host ‘driveway conferences’ at his home in North Hanford. The purpose was to discuss city issues. Athey’s biggest political accomplishment was his key role in the recall of then Council Member Francisco Ramirez who is now mayor.

The successful recall was over misuse of campaign funds. Ramirez was re-elected later that year.

Ironically Ramirez attended the memorial and praised Athey for “keeping him on his toes.” He issued a proclamation celebrating Athey’s involvement in city issues.

Following an Army military service where his ashes were saluted and a flag was presented to his family, various speakers recalled Athey’s qualities and life events.

The “very first thing they thought of was his laugh,” said friend Gus Amos of Armona where Athey also lived.

His laugh was so loud people could hear him downtown, said Amos.

The laugh got him kicked out of Coleman’s Restaurant in Armona.

Friend Robert Lee of Bakersfield who grew up with Athey said Skip was a great practical joker.

When they used to go to baseball games to see the Yankees play the Angels in Anaheim, Athey would pull stunts such as spilling a tray of expensive ballpark beer on people, recalled Lee.

When Athey wasn’t joking around he was attending city council meetings and posting comments on “Hanford City Council Actions” on Facebook.

“None of us ever questioned his love and support for us. He was always there,” said daughter Erin Gonzales of Hanford.

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