Former state Rep. Mary Skinner died this morning at her home in Yakima, less than a year after announcing that she was stepping down from her legislative seat to battle colon cancer. She was 63.
Elected to the House in 1994, Skinner served 14 years in Olympia, including two as vice chair of the House Republican caucus. The daughter of migrant workers in California, she spent virtually all her life in the Yakima Valley, moving to Wapato with her family when she was 3 months old.
Among the bills she championed in Olympia: double fines in school zones, a car seat safety law, hiring a state poet laureate, and extending insurance coverage to cover colon cancer screening. She pushed for state money to revamp Yakima's downtown, including the Capitol Theatre.
Skinner was diagnosed in early 2006, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After a brief remission, the cancer returned.
Skinner was married for 40 years to Henry Harlow "Hal" Skinner Jr., a surgeon. Dr. Skinner died Jan. 17 at 88.
The two will be honored at a joint funeral service, which is still being scheduled.